Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, a book review. From The Handcrafted Story

If you enjoy reading about creativity, I recommend reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s about how to get past your fear to live a creative life. She writes about how to do the creative work, and enjoy the process even if the work isn’t well received (she doesn’t advocate for quitting your day job to pursue a passion).

Favourite Quotes:

I wrote down too many quotes to include here, and it was hard to pick my favourites, but here they are:

No matter how great your teachers may be, and no matter how esteemed your academy’s reputation, eventually you will have to do the work by yourself. Eventually, the teachers won’t be there anymore. The walls of the school will fall away, and you’ll be on your own. The hours that you will then put into practice, study, auditions, and creation will be entirely up to you. The sooner and more passionately you get married to this idea – that it is ultimately entirely up to you – the better off you’ll be.

Possessing a creative mind, after all, is something like having a border collie for a pet: It needs to work, or else it will cause you an outrageous amount of trouble. Give you mind a job to do, or else it will find a job to do, and you might not like the job it invents (eating the couch, digging a hold through the living room floor, biting the mailman, etc.). It has taken me years to learn this, but it does seem to be the case that if I am not actively creating something, then I am probably actively destroying something (myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind).

If you like this book, try:

  • Elizabeth Gilbert recorded a series of podcast episodes, called Magic Lessons. In the podcast, Elizabeth interviews guests with creative challenges, and then follow-up guests to give advice on their creative challenges.
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, read my book review.
  • The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, read my book review.
  • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, read my book review.
  • Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon, read my book review.


I give Big Magic a 4/5 because although I enjoyed the book, and would like my own copy, I found some of the content “fluffy”, a little too magical for my taste. But it’s still a worthwhile read. There is some swearing.

Read all my creative book reviews.