Book: Big Magic
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Who should read this book: people looking to add a little more creativity into their lives
Gilbert has a lot of really great advice about being creative and harnessing the creative power everyone has. Her writing style is very natural and funny. She makes every idea accessible and easy to follow. The book is well laid out, divided into 5 ideas that you need to embrace to become more creative. She shares personal stories that many women will be able to relate to. This is like a self-help book for getting creative and going after your dreams.
I loved Eat, Pray, Love when I read it in university, but this one fell flat. Gilbert makes good points about creativity but it’s all just her feelings. There’s no fact or science involved in the book. This is something I love reading about, digging into the human brain. Why are some people more creative than others? Why do some people have an easier time letting the creative juices flow? Why do we always second guess ourselves when we come up with a great idea? These are questions I didn’t get an answer to. Now she’s not a scientist so I can’t fault her for not getting into that side of the discussion, but it was something I felt was missing.
My other big issue is with the author herself. The entire book she’s spewing all this feel good information, preaching that we have to trust ourselves to create wonderful things, that we must be more confident in our ability to create. Then multiple times in the book she’s says the success of Eat, Pray, Love was an accident. She is talking down about herself and her work, while telling the reader not to do that. It was so hypocritical it was annoying. Why should I listen to you when you aren’t taking your own advice?
My last problem is that near the beginning of the book she attempts to talk about the collective unconscious, but she doesn’t use that phrase. She’s talking about how an idea can come from anywhere, but she’s doing it in a lighthearted way. She says that ideas have a mind of their own and they will come to the person they believe is ready to take them (the idea) and make them a reality. I literally pictured the flying brains from Harry Potter and was laughing my butt off. I was laughing the whole chapter, and not laughing with her, but at her. She sounded like she was super high and having a laugh.
I think she was trying to say that the inspiration for an idea can come from anywhere at anytime. But that you have to be open to receiving that inspiration. I can go into a whole conversation about decalcifying the pineal gland and becoming more open to understanding the universe, but I won’t.
Essentially, in my understanding, the collective unconscious, a term coined by Carl Jung, is the shared memory and knowledge of all mankind. We all have access to it, but most of us aren’t paying attention. Gilbert is saying that within the collective unconscious there are ideas, suggestions, for paths you can take in your life, that others before you have already taken. It also agrees with her idea she mentions later in the book about her and another author having the same book idea and yet never speaking before. The book idea was already there in the collective, they both had access to it.
I think Gilbert should have taken it seriously and talked about Carl Jung and his psychological studies into the collective. I would have found that much more interesting and it would have helped me better understand the point she was making.
All that being said, it’s a good book. I read it quickly, she made some good points, and I can tell that this book would help a lot of people become more confident in themselves and I think that was Gilbert’s goal. It’s light hearted surface level self help. She doesn’t go too deep. She reminds me very much of Rachel Hollis and her style of writing.