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If you are a storytelling you may often get the question: Why do you create? How do you find motivation to write Often, we tell students that stories heal us. The stories we tell the world, and most importantly, ourselves, drive our lives. Writing is therapy, a practice, and an intentional way of living our lives. Writing is also showcasing the courage to put forth ideas that we often kill in our head. It provides the space for living with endless, aimless thoughts and identifying what matters. Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear encourages us all to dig in deeper, and let an idea come to fruition through us.

Like Godin, she describes everyone as creative. Unlike Godin, she talks about magic and ideas coming from outside us, and thinking of ourselves as the vessel through which they reach the world.

Your motivation to write: Instead of being a genius, all of us have a genius

Creative pursuits – like cave drawings, or stories shared in utensils made of earth precede the development of pieces of literature, or language. Our expression of creativity as humans takes many forms. Gilbert talks about loosening up and using the idea that we may not be genius, but we may all have a genius. This method looks at creative genius from an outside-in perspective without too much self-importance on our own talent. It also makes it feasible for everyone to have, not just a select few geniuses. What it does take though is the intentionality of doing something with the creative energy brimming inside of us.

“So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

The fear – What’s stopping you from being creative?

If it’s so ingrained in the human experience and expression, what’s stopping us? The fears come in many forms. Lack of motivation, the courage to build, the courage to share, the frustration of having less talent, and so many more ideas hinged on some sort of validation we seek.  To this, Gilbert offers up tons and tons of examples, and tools. 

motivation to write

“It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes, too.”– Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Central to her ideas is a couple of things – to feel fear is normal. We all do go through it. But she invites us to acknowledge and own it, rather than letting that one feeling own us. The other more crucial idea she talks about is this idea of self-importance we associate either with our work or with ourselves. 

“You’re not required to save the world with your creativity. Your art not only doesn’t have to be original, in other words, it also doesn’t have to be important. For example, whenever anyone tells me that they want to write a book in order to help other people I always think ‘Oh, please don’t. Please don’t try to help me.’ I mean it’s very kind of you to help people, but please don’t make it your sole creative motive because we will feel the weight of your heavy intention, and it will put a strain upon our souls.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

If we didn’t think about our work is the world changing magus opus, it is possible to be true to what we create. Often, there’s a gap between our taste and what we create e.g., I would like to create a podcast like Ira Glass or write like Gulzar but I’m not there. The only way to close that gap is practice, and being in a constant habit of creativity, taking the risks to do more. We may never be what our ideals are, but we will still be able to generate space for ideas that are relevant and important in our lives. The idea that comes to fruition through us will complete our creative needs. And if that’s the only purpose of it, it’s okay. We don’t need to save the world.

How do you define authentic creative success?

Many people worry about how successful they will be or if their efforts are wasted. There’s research that shows that, writing for instance (even when we burn down the notebooks later), allows us to feel our feelings better. Most creative expeditions are spiritual like that. They guide us to feel our ups and downs and confront the feelings we feel. Most of all, our creativity saves us by helping us bring our most authentic selves out. A heart break isn’t original, but the way it impacts us is authentic to our experience. Staying on the path with dedication enables us to define what feels right, independent of the validation from external metrics we seem obsessed with.

“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures…Anyhow, the older I get, the less impressed I become with originality. These days, I’m far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

This book has been out a while. I feel like I read books when I need them. If you needed to push your creativity inspiration, this is one to not miss.

Join us for a day of storytelling online on November 17th, we meet here.