Big Magic: Quotes From Elizabeth Gilbert

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Are you looking for Big Magic quotes by Elizabeth Gilbert? What are some of the most noteworthy passages worth revisiting?

In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert offers both spiritual wisdom on how to work with the magical forces of creativity, as well as suggestions on how to create effectively and productively. Gilbert draws on her successful career as a writer, best known for her 2006 memoir Eat Pray Love, and her advice is aimed toward anyone who has a creative bent. 

Below is a selection of Big Magic quotes with explanations.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

If you’ve ever felt a creative tug or impulse, writer Elizabeth Gilbert can help you act on it. According to Gilbert, the author of the best-selling memoir Eat Pray Love, creativity is not just the domain of a few brilliant professional artists, but rather an enriching way of life that anyone can adopt at any time. If you embrace creativity, you’ll experience “Big Magic”: a mystical or spiritual force of creativity that brings joy and purpose.

The following Big Magic quotes highlight some of her key ideas.

“Recognizing that people’s reactions don’t belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.”

Gilbert writes that one of the common mental challenges many creators face is the input and feelings of others about their work. Others will inevitably form opinions of and try to categorize your work, but you must not let those opinions or labels affect how or what you create. The need to categorize and label is an inherent human trait. You cannot change that and you cannot fight off every label or opinion others try to assign to you, writes Gilbert. All you can do is to make what you want to make. Everything that comes after is out of your hands. 

“Done is better than good.”

According to Gilbert, one of the greatest mental obstacles to creativity is perfectionism. She believes that no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to attain perfection: There will always be a way someone can find your work lacking. It’s therefore pointless to strive for perfection and better just to create something imperfect and put it into the world. 

To Gilbert, perfectionism is a nefarious psychological ailment because it appears to be a good thing: You seem to simply be holding yourself to a high standard. But in reality, perfectionism is a manifestation of the fear of not being worthy. You don’t believe that you deserve to exist as you are and therefore put the onus on your work to earn you that right by being perfect. 

If you let it, says Gilbert, perfectionism can stop a project dead in its tracks or prevent you from even starting it for fear it won’t be perfect, and that is the worst possible way to honor an idea.

“It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes, too.”

One of the first things you must do as you begin your creative journey, says Gilbert, is find a way to manage your fear. She believes fear is omnipresent when we are trying to be creative. This is because fear’s main purpose is to protect us in situations of uncertainty, and, unfortunately, the creative process is full of uncertainty. 

To deal with your fear gracefully, Gilbert recommends making space alongside your creativity for your fear, so that they can comfortably coexist. Treat fear as a friend. 

Big Magic: Quotes From Elizabeth Gilbert

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Big Magic summary :

  • Why integrating creativity into your daily life will make you feel more fulfilled
  • Why creating for money is a form of self-sabotage
  • Why you should never focus on external validation of your creations

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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