Thoughts on Creative Living

big magic 1

Steve gifted me Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert at the end of last year. I finished reading it a few weeks ago and Gilbert’s words on creative living have stuck with me in a way I can only describe as validating and energizing.

Generally speaking, I felt creatively stagnant last year. Some of it had to do with nearing the end of an extensive renovation with no desire to move right away or invent projects just for the sake of blogging. Some of it had to do with Everett’s accident and all the legal, financial and mental repercussions that followed. A lot of it had to do with my struggle to figure out where this space goes after it’s served its purpose as a place to share our downsizing/renovation story. Whatever the reasons, I didn’t write, photograph, create, paint, play around and share enough to satiate my creative side. As a result, my creative muscles atrophied and I felt a little lost.

But after reading Big Magic, I’m finding my way. I’ve come to realize that squeezing creativity into my everyday life is essential to my happiness. I need it to thrive. Maybe you can relate? Here are five key takeaways from the book that are inspiring me to live a more creative life this year.

1. Change your definition of creative living. Gilbert defines creative living as “a life driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.” It’s shaping your world exactly to your liking and uncovering your hidden talents. It doesn’t have to be your career. In fact, formal education isn’t always necessary. Sometimes, it’s even crippling because school debt places an emphasis on financial success.

Gilbert gives the example of a middle-aged friend waking up early a few mornings each week to spend time at the ice rink, revisiting her childhood love of figure skating. Creative living isn’t always as obvious as the writer shacked up in a secluded cabin by a lake working on her next novel or the artist brushing paint onto a canvas in his backyard studio. Creative living looks different to different people. And that’s okay!

2. You don’t need permission to live a creative life. You’re allowed to be curious. You’re allowed to try new things. You’re allowed to make things just because you like making things. (You’re also allowed to NOT make things because you don’t enjoy making things.) It’s in your DNA to make things and that’s really all the permission you need. How freeing is that?!

3. Forget perfect. Done is good enough. If you seek only flawless performances or perfect works of art, you won’t create or share anything. And that, by definition, is not creative living because fear is trumping your curiosity. (see #1)

4. The outcome cannot matter. You can’t take creative living too seriously. After all, it’s just trying, learning or making stuff. It’s NOT a baby. (I’ve always found it odd when people describe their creative work this way.) You don’t have to save the world. You don’t have to find some untapped niche. You just have to like it. You can like it because it’s fun, fascinating, healing, sanity-saving or just plain ol’ frivolous. And sharing what you do or make without expectations is the only sane way to create. The peanut gallery’s reaction doesn’t belong to you.

5. Curiosity is the secret. You aren’t creative because you have the luxury of extra time and energy. There is no magic fairy dust. There is hard work, persistence and lifelong learning. You do and make new things because it matters to you enough that you’re willing to give up some sleep, money, TV, exercise, socializing, etc. As long as curiosity is fueling your work, you will be able to get through the shitty parts.

Have you read Big Magic? Did any particular idea(s) strike you as inspiring or change the way you think about creative living? I, for one, am listening to my curiosity now more than ever. I’m excited to see, learn, try and make so many new (to me) things without being bogged down by reactions that are beyond my control. If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If creativity and curiosity are tugging at your heart strings, it’s a must-read.

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Article Source: Thoughts on Creative Living

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