Before I start with the book, I’d love to tell you that this was my first audiobook, and I couldn’t have expected anything better than what I experienced. I had been hearing a lot about audiobooks since many months, but the idea always seemed bit dubious to me. How could listening to a book be better than reading it? I always wondered. But it was; if not better, it was equally good.
What helped in giving me this amazing experience, I believe, was the voice of the Eat, Pray, Love author (the book was narrated by the author herself); her pleasant voice did wonders. Her pitch, her modulations, every nuance kept with the sentences’ variation, which eventually made me feel as if I was in direct conversation with her.
I, initially, hadn’t planned on to write such descriptive review for this book. Usually I never pre-plan, except for the books that are non-fiction; ‘O Jerusalem!’ and ‘Freedom at Midnight’, for instance. But other than above two mentioned titles, I never published a review on my blog until and unless it magically swooped me up off my feet with something unexpected and profound.
Big Magic successfully did so in last few chapters.
Now about the book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. The title of the book speaks for itself; how to lead a creative life overcoming the rules, the predicaments, the expectations of the self and the society. Yes, it is a self-help book. And, yes, that is why I’d recommend you to listen to the book, rather than reading it.
To start with, I’d say this book is, in general, for all the creative fields, be it writing or painting or singing or acting or dancing or sculpting, any possible creative field; but it has certain insights that would be most useful for writers; this could have been due to the creative field the author herself is associated with, but yes, writers would gain the most from this book.
Below are certain main pointers that made me write this review. (Have themed out the whole thing, so that you can refer the points that interest you. Although, reading the whole thing won’t harm you. At all.)
- Placing your vocation, here writing, at a level too high than it should be
After going through this book, I realized how silly of me it has been to put all my expectations in creativity’s cap. Initially, as a writer, I always thought, or at least hoped, that my work is the elixir that this world needs. (An elixir? Really? Too dramatic. I know.) I placed my vocation at a level too high than it should be.
Let’s be honest, this world needs teachers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, architects, plumbers, carpenters, masons, technicians, reporters, much more than it needs a writer or a painter or a dancer. Does it even need the latter three? The world won’t stop working if I, or any writer/author, stops putting out his or her work; but it definitely will if doctors or engineers stop providing their services. Do I, as a writer, even provide any service? I create stuff, sometimes for creating awareness and other times for entertainment. But none of it impacts the world the way a doctor’s work does, does it?
So, writing is just a waste of time, of writers as well as readers; writing does no good to humanity; writing’s absence would be the same as its presence. Did I conclude all this after reading this book? If I had, I should stop writing right from this moment. But no, this is not what the author says, neither is this what I concluded.
Writing is a therapeutic vocation and its end-product is, in a same way, a therapeutic service. It is an activity that we do for ourselves first and then for our readers, if we’ve any. As for its any good to humanity, let’s try to not do any good, okay? Let’s try to not change the world. Let’s, for now, just focus on letting ourselves heal and relax and let go through our writing. Creative activities bring the best changes when they do not try to intentionally do so. If you write to change the world, when did the writing change you as a person in the meanwhile, you won’t even realize.
So, stop putting all your expectations in your creativity’s cap; let it breathe and live untamed; and only then can you live a creative life.
- Not considering your artwork as your baby
Then came one of the most important piece of advice – not to consider your artwork as your baby. Because when the time comes to mutilate and fix your artwork, your emotional attachments to your work would hinder you to do so. You cannot mutilate your baby with your own hands, can you?
To have emotional connection with an artwork of yours is one thing, and to consider it a baby is an altogether different matter. The more your heart goes out with a character, the harder it will be for you to kill it, if the story demands; the more your heart goes out with a sentence, the harder it will be for you to alter it, if the article demands.
Accepting criticisms also becomes a huge issue if your artwork is your baby. The more you connect yourself with the piece, the more difficult it becomes to notice the flaws that need to be fixed, the gaps that need to be filled.
Don’t push the cold and detach buttons; but be aware to not cross the fine line that keeps you away from getting inordinately attached to your artwork.
- Engaging oneself in more than one creative fields
Another important thing that Elizabeth, the author, taught me here is to indulge oneself in another creative activity if one is not working out. If I still haven’t made it clear, let me say here – all these suggestions, and this book, are for you, if living creative life is what you want.
Back to the idea of engaging oneself in another creative activity. As a creative person, you must be aware that, unlike technical activities like computer coding, creative vocations don’t mind throwing their tantrums at all. They mock you if you managed to write only one sentence, or drew only a stroke, throughout your day of creativity. We all have been there, have we not? We get stuck; sometimes for a day and sometimes for weeks; you cannot predict when will your muse return. What to do then? Sit back and wait for it? Well, I don’t know about the return of muse, but it will certainly make you comfortable (yes, comfortable and accustomed) to live with your disappointments and failures.
What to do then? How to not go insane or avoid getting comfortable with an uncomfortable life?
The answer would be to engage oneself in another creative activity. If writing is your forte, why not try your hands on painting for a while, or perhaps on sculpting? When one creative channel stops working, it doesn’t mean all the channels have stopped flowing their juices. If one doesn’t work, try dabbling into another one. After a while writing will come back to you.
I am yet to try this out, but the author already has, and it worked for her. To know her story, you have to read/ listen to the book.
Going by the above hack of handling the ‘writer’s-block,’ I’ve decided to get back to sketching and painting. But you can choose whatever suits you. It doesn’t have to be just one, it can be two or three or four; just don’t juggle up between the numbers that you cannot handle.
- How wrong “No pain no gain” is in writing
Oh my! The most important one.
Some writers, especially poets, make melancholy and drama of their life their muse. As normal as it sounds, as despondent it is. To write, such people try to indulge themselves in intentional pain. They make pain their only source of writing. Mind you, not all, but many.
How sad this is, isn’t it? What should have been a way of healing, is turned into a maze of self-inflicting suffering and agony. Many well-known authors and poets, who were drunkards, got themselves into alcoholism (or be it any other addiction) when their life was rough on them. But some of them stayed back in there, for by then they had made suffering their muse; loss of suffering meant loss of writing to them.
And many writers who try to imitate such poets and writers are getting down the same sad, unhealthy lane. They believe that a happy and satiated life would strangle their writer within. That only melancholy will keep their writer alive.
Having an unhealthy attitude towards writing can cost a lot more than it ever intends to give back.
How muse is a living being which keeps on passing from one source to another until it finds out the right person to settle on; how the exact story that the author had in her mind but could never finish writing, jumped to another writer after a while; what this big magic really is; and many such fascinating stories await in this wonderful book, Big Magic: Creative Living beyond Fear.
I know I will keep on getting back to it; once in every while. It makes me realize the significance of creativity in one’s life.
I’d take a leave now, with the final word that the Magic in here was really Big.
Have you read this book? If not, will you ever read it? Does any of the above written stuff make sense to you? What creative areas do you or would like to luxuriate in? Share your views. Only then can the misconceptions be eradicated, and ideas get circulated.
IF YOU ARE A FIRST- TIME VISITOR OF MY BLOG, DO REFER ‘First-Timers‘. IT WOULD HELP YOU IN EXPLORING THE PLACE.
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