Big Magic is a book by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love. It’s an inspirational, non-fiction book where the author talks about creative living beyond fear. This book really resonated with me at this time in my life where I’m starting my own creative endeavor, Planned Plate! There are so many valuable lessons in living a richer life and doing the things you enjoy. Here are some of my key takeaways!
Do something you enjoy throughout life
You don’t have to make the thing you enjoy your career or a competition. Just do it for the joy of doing it. Sometimes when the things you enjoy become work or competition, you stop enjoying them. You also may not have the time to make it your career or be the best at it. So what? Do it to bring happiness into your day!
This lesson resonated with me because I’m the type of person who thrives on competition so I usually won’t do something if I have nothing to achieve or beat. One thing I started to do for enjoyment instead of competition is running without a timer and only looking at the distance after I’m done. I can just enjoy being outside and moving.
If you argue for your limitations you get to keep them
Essentially what this means is that if you continue to believe you can’t do something then you will continue to not be able to do it. It’s a self-limiting belief. Your mindset needs to be shifted from “I can’t..” or “I am not..” to “I can..” or “I am..”.
I’m a scientist and my schooling consisted of lab reports and research papers. Writing blog posts is totally out of my comfort zone. My mantra before I start a new post will now be “I am a writer”.
You do not need anyone’s permission to live a creative life
It may seem scary to put yourself out there. To be honest I was afraid of what people would think when they saw me launch Planned Plate. I worried that people would think I shouldn’t be doing this or I wasn’t qualified. I still think that often. But I don’t need anyone else’s permission and that’s why I’m here writing this right now.
Be authentic over being original.
Most things have already been done, but they have not yet been done by you. There are loads of other food blogs, meal plans, and scientists out there. This blog isn’t an original idea and lots of other people are doing it. People have probably written posts about this book! But there’s room for everyone and we can all bring a different perspective to the table. Some people may resonate with my content more than somebody else’s and vice versa. The important part is being authentic. Share who you are and put your own creativity into it. Don’t worry about trying to do something no one else has done before.
You need to put in the time
If that means waking up early, then so be it. If you want to pursue a creative life then that’s what it takes. Everyone is busy and everyone has the same amount of hours in the day. Like most people, I work a full time 8-5 job. I also have a 30 minute commute and other day to day tasks that need to get done. It doesn't leave a lot of free time so I have to make it. For most of human history the vast majority of people have made their art in stolen moments using scraps of borrowed time. Creative living is not always easy, but it’s always possible.
We don’t have time for perfect
Done is better than perfect. General George Patton said, "A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week". Put your creativity out into the world. Learn from it. Try again. I waited months to launch Planned Plate. I wanted everything to be perfect before anyone else would see it. I totally regret that and wish I would have started sooner. None of the blog posts, Instagram photos, or recipes I share are perfect. But since I started sharing I’ve been improving each time and learning as I go. You don’t reach perfection without practice.
Nobody is thinking about you
This sounds harsh, but it’s actually freeing. People are too busy thinking about themselves to worry about you. So put your creativity out there. People might think about it for a second as it pops up on their feed, but no one is analyzing it like you do. Don’t dwell on it. Be you, be authentic, put it out there. I try to remind myself of this each time I post.
Awful vs Interesting
The difference between being a tormented creative and a tranquil creative is the difference between the words awful and interesting. This one hits home for me. I tend to have a negative attitude about things that happen that are seemingly bad. I go right to self-doubt, stress, or anger. I’m working on shifting that perspective by thinking of things as interesting instead. This has a more positive spin and can help me look at setbacks in a better frame of mind.
Be careful of quitting too soon
Don’t quit just because things get tough. Of course there are times that you should quit, but be wary of quitting too soon. Sometimes the best things come out of the tough times. Living a creative life isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it. I started a food blog in 2013. I posted maybe five times and then I quit. Imagine where that blog could be today if I had stuck with it. Instead I had to start over 6 years later. But now I’m on post 27 with no plans of stopping!
Don’t dwell on failure
If you spend too much time focused on failure, you might miss the next opportunity to do something great. See what you can learn from the failure and appreciate the experience. You don’t need to know what it means. Own your disappointment, acknowledge it, and move on. I recently tried to start a business with my fiance and it failed. We were upset, but learned a lot from the experience. Now we’re selling our house and have moved on to our next idea.
Which of these 10 lessons do resonate with most?