Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert – Book of the Week. Review.


“Perfectionists often decide in advance that the end product is never going to be satisfactory, so they don’t even bother trying to be creative in the first place.” 



You can tell that Elizabeth is a novelist, she loves telling stories, this book shows it through out.  Short chapters keep it interesting, the great subheadings catch your eye. And the stories that stand out almost from the very start keep the reader going.

On the other hand, I would had hoped this book would had been more universal. I as a writer and a creative individual relate to it, but many people won’t. And the book title makes it sound more universal.

Frankly I was about to drop reading this book after I was to get to page 60 as I did not really see anything, but then the magic struck.  Page 58. That one paragraph. “This is how it comes to pass that one morning you open the newspaper and discover that somebody else has written your book, directed your play, or released your record, or produced your movie, or founded your business…” That was the spark that ignited the flow to continue reading, I’ve been there. I’ve done that. You got my attention.


Main lessons:

Reminder that you don’t need a degree.

  • Elizabeth Gilbert is an author with millions upon millions books sold. She did not have a degree in writing. She showed a very interesting stat, that “history seems to agree” with her, “Twelve North American writers have won Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901: Not one of them had an MFA (Master of Fine Arts.)” Matter of fact, four of them didn’t even finish college.
  • And this is where Elizabeth gets super fascinating. “But I worry that what students of the arts are often seeking in higher education is nothing more than proof of their own legitimacy – proof that they are for real as creative people, because their degree says so.” And that sentence really struck me. Most people really only go to college because they don’t believe in themselves. They need something to prove they are as good, reality is that if you are good than you are good, you don’t need a paper to show it, ask one of her friends who teaches art without a degree.  What you can do and do means a lot more than paper in today’s world.  This doesn’t apply for all degrees, but you don’t need a paper to certify that you can draw great.



Reminder that we naturally do:

  • We make things, we have been making things over 30 000 years before we were farming on some scale.”The earliest evidence of recognizable human art is forty thousand years old.” This shows that creativity was within us and is hidden somewhere within you.”

It probably was done before.

  • “It probably has already been done. Most things have already been done.” “But they have not yet been done by you.” A reminder that whatever you do now will probably not be original, so do it anyway, as if you try to find something that has fully never been done before, then you will be searching a long time.

Perfection doesn’t work.

  • “Perfectionists often decide in advance that the end product is never going to be satisfactory, so they don’t even bother trying to be creative in the first place.”  Don’t be lazy but most often finishing is still better than most “good work” unfinished.





  • I loved the comedy.You want to write a book? Make a song?… You want to draw a penis on your wall? Do it. Who cares?”
  • Permission section was a really big thumbs up from me.“You don’t need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.”
  • Great Subheadings. “The Shit Sandwich.” “WTF.” And “Worst Girlfriend Ever.” These subheadings catch attention.
  • Great stories.
  • Key lessons to be learned.


  • Boring at times, specially the first 57 pages.
  • Lot’s of passive words which weaken the arguments.
  • Not backed up.
  • Contradictions

Overall, it’s a book that I would still put on a reading list but that would not be a top priority. A 6.5/10 is deserved. You can sense Elizabeth’s novelist mind within it, and that’s great. Once you catch that flow then it’s really powerful, but until then it will be hard to focus on it. You can buy it here: Big Magic  This book is published by Riverhead publishing.

Quote of the Book:

“You will never be able to create anything interesting out of your life if you don’t believe you’re entitled to at least try.”

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