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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  189,441 ratings  ·  15,142 reviews
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Gilbert offers insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, app ...more
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published September 22nd 2015 by Riverhead Books (first published September 2015)
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David Lynch We are all scared. Every last one of us experience it daily. Look at my avatar - I'm obviously petrified!

There are two kinds of people: those who feel…more
We are all scared. Every last one of us experience it daily. Look at my avatar - I'm obviously petrified!

There are two kinds of people: those who feel fear and stop in their tracks, and those who feel fear and keep going. The good news is, you can switch to the 2nd kind of person by learning that fear does not equal a stop sign. Fear can also equal excitement.

One of my favorite quotes is "Mastering fear doesn't mean getting rid of the butterflies in your stomach. It means teaching them to fly in formation."(less)
Kate Dana Yes, read it! It is an ideal time to pick it up. Especially if you are a creative person and foresee creative pursuits in your future. The writing sty…moreYes, read it! It is an ideal time to pick it up. Especially if you are a creative person and foresee creative pursuits in your future. The writing style is very casual and conversational; it's a very easy, fast read. Honestly, I wish this book was around when I was a teen heading to art school and my design career that followed. It would have helped me a lot with many of the dips and dives along the way!(less)

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Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
I appreciate and respect Elizabeth Gilbert's attempt to inspire creativity, and can fully see why people could love this and take a lot away from it.. but there were too many fundamental things that I disagreed with/thought were done poorly for me.

1) Creativity as a type of religion: I don't know if "religion" is the right word here, but Gilbert's spiritualization of creativity is saturated in this book. She talks about our need to think of creativity as a spiritual entity, to believe that ideas
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, arc, wellness
Talk about receiving the right message at the right time. Wow. Big Magic is one of the most honest discussions about the creative process that I’ve ever read. Gilbert strikes a playful and conversational tone, but make no mistake, this is all straight talk. Her no BS attitude helps do away with the unrealistic expectations and unnecessary melodrama attached to the concept of “creative living” (like how she so expertly pish poshes the tormented artist ideal). And in its place, she asks all people ...more
Darth J
Jan 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
Preach, Vain, Snore

You know, I didn't enter into this as a "hate-read", despite being such a cynic. I don't like to waste my time and money on things just to have something to snark at (I can already hear the snickering in the audience as I write that). You see, with any of these advice books I actually want to learn something useful; that's the whole reason why I would pick it up in the first place. Despite being utterly let down with her previous book, I genuinely wanted to give this a try, if
Chris Blocker
May 07, 2015 rated it liked it

Is it mere coincidence that BIG is synonymous with FAT and that MAGIC is one of those oblique words difficult to put your finger on, like CHANCE? Because I think that's a better title for this book: Fat Chance. That's the message here: you're gonna fail, you big loser! Where's the big magic in that?

I get it, some artists are confused about the outcomes or reasons for pursuing creative ventures. It's true, most of us are going to fail and fail again. Many of us will eventually give up trying. Gil
Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert, for writing this much-needed book on creativity. It was practical, helpful, comforting and inspiring. I know it will be a book I recommend over and over again to writer and artist friends, and anyone else who wants to live a more creative life.

I've been struggling for a week over this review, and I'm still a bit overwhelmed. Sometimes books are so powerful that trying to cobble together a few paragraphs about them seems both trivial and also maddeningly crucial. How

Favorite Book of the Year

Where to start? This book knocked my socks off. Which is pretty strange given that I’ve always been a die-hard cynic (with really tight socks). I’ve always rolled my eyes at spirituality and snidely called it woo woo (now I murmur woo woo with affection). And self-help? Please! I don’t need some pompous asshole telling me how to live right, okay? And I wasn’t a fan of Eat, Pray, Love. What a lot of strikes against this one.

So….ta da!! Holy freakin’ toledo! I know I risk
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Every time I reread this I like it more
Elyse Walters
The message is...."we are all inherently creative".
Elizabeth Gilbert says..."Be an artist. Create for the sake of creating".
"Because creative living is where the Big Magic will always be".
And we paid money for this enlightening information. It's kinda funny to me... how
such an average book, by an average writer, ( acknowledges herself that her ideas
won't resonate with everyone), is such a huge success ---and by that I mean 'money-in-the-bank'. She doesn't have to practice what she preaches.
Justin Tate
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The most important book a writer (or any artist) can read. It's better than Stephen King's "On Writing," better than E.B. White's "The Elements of Style" and, honestly, it's probably better than an MFA.

Prior to picking this up I hadn't read Elizabeth Gilbert before. Of course I knew of Eat Pray Love, but never felt compelled to read the book or watch the movie. That's not important. Don't miss this book because it's by the author of a cheesy memoir. If you want to be an artist (and enjoy it) rea
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I underlined something on nearly every page, and my margin notes look like this:


I haven't loved everything Gilbert has ever written, but this is one of those books that came into my life at the perfect moment. I say this often (usually about every book I read and enjoy), but I want everyone I love to read this book.
da AL
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This & 'The Signature of All Things' are my fave Gilbert books. As the audiobook reader in addition to writer, she does an incredible job of sounding polished, relaxed, & truly encouraging. Read or listen to the end for the 2 best of all her great annecdotes. ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
“I don’t know what I think until I write about it.”― Joan Didion

I was in need of a Nonfiction read to compel me from the start when I came upon Big Magic. Elizabeth Gilbert starts off this very book by writing about a reclusive poet she’s passionate about (“I loved him dearly from a respectful distance”), and I became swept up in the accessible, talkative writing tone. It's the classic case of 'I should’ve been bored me but instead, I was fascinated.' The author has an eye for telling stories an
Ahmad Sharabiani
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is an American journalist and author. She is best known for her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love.

Gilbert offers insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration.

She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear.

She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives.

With her new book, Gilbert sets herself up as a layman’s creativity guru much like Anne Lamott does with Bird by Bird or Stephen King with On Writing. This is based on Gilbert’s TED talks, and it reads very much like a self-help pep talk, with short chapters, lots of anecdotes, and buzz words to latch onto.

Here’s a taste of some of Gilbert’s main ideas:
• Forget about entitlement; “You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.”
• Authenticity is better than originality; after a
Debbie "DJ"
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I loved this book, and think it's one of the most important I've ever read. I'm one of those who thought I missed the creative gene. That people were just born creative... not true! Gilbert explains how curiosity leads to ideas, and when ideas are paid attention to, true magic can happen. She says, " The idea will organize coincidences and portents to tumble across your path, to keep your interest keen... everything you see and touch and do will remind you of the idea..." I love that! Yes, ...more
Jan 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star
I decided not to finish this book at about 50% mostly because the level of bullshit reached astronomic proportions; the final straw was Gilbert saying the writing and art are the most useless jobs in the world and hold no merit compared to jobs that actually benefit society. ... and she isn't joking or being ironic. This is a New York Times best selling-author telling me that writing is useless, thankless job. I wonder if she laughed as she typed that.

What Gilbert basically says is: If you’re in
Whitney Atkinson
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, read-in-2018
I know this has mixed reviews but I didn't mind it! It's not my new bible or anything but it was definitely a kick to the booty to get going on all the story ideas I have. This touches on important topics about staying humble as an author, writing for the right reasons, persevering, and forming ideas. Although this applies to all creativity, I felt especially attached to this as a writer because she is also a writer.

A debated topic in this book is that Gilbert encourages people not to go to art
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
This was a highly enjoyable audiobook to listen to.
Creativity has recently become something that really matters to me. I used to thrive on it and I had a certain belief about it. That creativity can only thrive when you feel something. But the truth is if you were to wait for a feeling, your creativity becomes stagnant and it has become stagnant for me.
Now I know it to be a muscle that has to be exercised and that creativity isn’t as serious or as deep one thinks.
It matters, but it’s also lig
Iris P

Ok so with a little more than 16 hours to end the year, my mind has been officially blown away by Ms.Elizabeth Gilbert, wow!
I am the more surprised because I utterly and unequivocally loathe the "self-help" book category. But what a rewarding reading experience to close what was already a fantastic year in books for me!

Listening to Gilbert's narrate Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear was delightful, she has the most lovely voice and is an excellent narrator, but I decided to also get the Eb
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I have enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert's TED talks on creativity, more than her books, so I was happy to see her write a book on the topic she seems to think about a lot. Within this book itself she admits that she is writing it in order to explore what she thinks about creativity.

The book seems to be similar to one of those gift books you get when you graduate with highschool, with motivational quotes and pictures, those b
Hannah Greendale
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Click here to watch a video featuring this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I had high hopes for Big Magic and during the first thirty pages or so, I thought those expectations would be met but unfortunately, as I read on, it just wasn't for me. I didn't personally agree with some of the ideas this book portrayed and Elizabeth Gilbert's voice and ideas just ended up not really resonating with me. I wasn't a fan of the constant name dropping and her idea that art isn't important, necessary or life saving. For example, she mentions how it would be useless during an apocal ...more
There could not have been a better time to read Big Magic than in the fraught and anxious, giddy and surreal days before launching my first novel. Gilbert's words soothed and grounded me, took me out of the uncomfortable, jangly headspace of self-promotion and back into the embrace of what it means to be a creative person, why I set forth on this path in the first place.

Fear is boring.
Yes. This. I spent forty-one years (okay, maybe thirty-five; for the first six I was blissfully unaware that I
R.K. Gold
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 but rounded up to 4

If you’re looking a how to book this isn’t for you. If you’re questioning your creativity or looking for a one way dialogue to reinvigorate your purpose this short work will do you wonders.

I appreciate the idea of creativity as a living entity and it’s our responsibility to accept and reject it.

Though short, by the end I was ready for it to end. It did get repetitive at times but ultimately I’m glad I read it.
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
I won this as an ARC in a goodreads giveaway and I appreciate the opportunity to read it in advance of release. However, sad to say, it's very disappointing, and I loved "Eat, Pray, Love." This book is pretty bad. Two stars is generous.
It's just very cheesy from the beginning. There is no real science or logic to the book. It's just Gilbert's ramblings, page after page, ad nauseam, about creativity. The book is really just her writing history, how she was discovered, and why her way is the righ
"You don't need permission to be creative." I thought it was kinda stupid advice when I first read this sentence, simply because it's obvious. Who really thinks they need permission to be creative?  BUT THEN I REALISED, I DID...... :| 

My need for permission to be creative takes the form of guilt whenever I sit down and try to create content. I always feel guilty about doing something that isn’t worthwhile. But who says it’s not worthwhile? Where does this feeling come from? This is a self-im
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear


Am a better writer for having listened to this? No. Am I a better ARTIST for having listened to this? HELL YES!

If you are involved in the arts 🎭 in any way, you must read this book. If you want to live a more adventurous life, you must read this book.

Bottom line, read this book.

April (Aprilius Maximus)
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think I'm in love with Elizabeth Gilbert. ...more
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Basically all the good advise you have ever heard on becoming a productive creative person all in one book. A creative living guide to life by following your happiness. This is definitely a self-help book. It was written for perfectionists and anxiety driven people (like me) and a reality check for everyone else on how to accomplish anything and everything in life. Yes, there is no earth shattering advise in this book. It is mostly common sense. It is about letting go of the excuses and moving ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Adding Edition 1 5 Nov 16, 2022 07:16AM  
NaNo Coffeehouse ...: Section 4: Persistence 1 7 Sep 26, 2021 10:16AM  
NaNo Coffeehouse ...: Section 5: Trust 1 6 Sep 26, 2021 09:57AM  
NaNo Coffeehouse ...: Section 3: Permission 1 7 Sep 12, 2021 10:37AM  
NaNo Coffeehouse ...: Big Magic Book Club Introduction 6 13 Sep 05, 2021 07:06PM  
NaNo Coffeehouse ...: Section 2: Enchantment: Flow 1 6 Sep 05, 2021 03:52PM  
NaNo Coffeehouse ...: Section 2: Enchantment: Creativity is Magic 2 5 Sep 05, 2021 01:26PM  

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Elizabeth Gilbert is an award-winning writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Her short story collection Pilgrims was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award, and her novel Stern Men was a New York Times notable book. Her 2002 book The Last American Man was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award.

Her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, spent 57 weeks in the #1

Articles featuring this book

Her Favorite Books About Creative Inspiration: Find fuel for your passions in these five works of wisdom recommended by the author of the new...
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“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.” 362 likes
“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.” 315 likes
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