Last week I attended an evening (part of the Brisbane Writers Festival) with one of my favourite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert.
Elizabeth Gilbert has been a beacon of inspiration to millions, for over a decade now. If you’re an avid fan of her work, you won’t be surprised to learn that she’s as witty, self-deprecating, and pragmatically wise as you would have learned to appreciate.
I wanted to share a few of her ideas that I found especially illuminating– gems I think you’ll love and be helped by, too.
On Embracing Curiosity
There’s a lot of talk about the importance of following your passion, but Elizabeth Gilbert champions ‘Curiosity over Passion’.
Inspiration shows up when YOU show up and get curious about the fleeting ideas that come your way.
Follow your curiosity like a trail of breadcrumbs. Trust in it. If there is something that you find particularly interesting and have a lot of questions about, it’s likely that other people will too.
On Self Trust
Don’t live in competition with yourself and don’t turn your blessings into a curse.
Elizabeth maintained that she managed to enjoy the success of Eat, Pray, Love, without focusing so much on what was coming next. She just knew that she would continue to write, no matter what.
We get addicted to certain moments, to the rock star moments. But the real work is when it’s boring and your faith is shaky. That’s when you need to ask yourself the question –
Can your creativity trust you?
For a long time, Elizabeth doubted whether she had the credibility to write Big Magic. She admitted that Big Magic had been swimming around in her consciousness for 12 years before she trusted in, and owned the fact that she was ready to write it.
There’s a time in a woman’s life when you decide that you know what you know.
Big Magic is a manifesto of sorts. It’s a manifesto on creativity. Eventually, I had to trust that –
I AM an expert on creativity. I’ve been doing this work all of my life.”
On Living a Creative Life
I don’t believe that you can do anything you want to do. But you can do something, and doing something is better than the dream of doing anything.
Creativity can be irrational. It wants what it wants. Take the time to make something that no body needs.
That’s what we do as creative beings. We take one of our most precious resources (our time) and we pour it into something that no one has even asked for, or needs.
It’s an aspect of our shared humanity – this irrational need for creating things, for no particular reason.
Dance like no one’s watching. Create like no ones watching.
On Motivation and Self-Discipline
When it comes to leading a creative life, you have to be prepared to say NO to the things you don’t want, as well as some of the things you DO want.
There is a certain amount of sacrifice involved. Stop squandering your time and energy!
What are you willing to give up in order to live the life you claim you want?
When we are procrastinating, there’s always that nagging feeling. We already know that feeling isn’t going away until we do our work. So, you might as well just get to it!
The ‘too tired’, ‘not enough time’ excuses are an easier option than facing our resistance but they never bring us happiness.
On Criticism and Compassion:
The takeaway that connected with me the most on the evening, was when Elizabeth touched on what she described as her rules for receiving criticism.
You have to accept some criticism or you will never change.
Criticism can provide important feedback and useful information that can help us grow. But don’t forget to ask yourself the question – ‘Does this person have my best interests at heart?
The individual who boasts about their ‘brutal honesty’ is just waiting for a chance to hurt you. Don’t go to them.
Go to the friend with a compassionate heart. Someone who has similar taste to you, whose opinion you respect.
It’s simple –
Don’t listen to people who don’t care about you.
I could easily write a second blog combing together all the magical wisps of wisdom that were shared by Elizabeth Gilbert, but I trust that you enjoyed these highlights and ask that you share with a friend today!