For months and months I had been suffering from writer’s block. My words were on the tip of my brain but they struggled to make their way to the tips of my fingers. In longing for some much needed help, there was Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and she single-handedly pulled me out of the deep, dark writing hole I found myself in.
In 2010, I had become a fan of hers, not because I read her famous book Eat, Pray, Love, which sold ten million copies, but because I saw her interview on Oprah. And because Oprah is actually God, I paid attention.
Flash forward five years.
Whilst scrolling through the audio books available on my phone for inspiration, I found Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. I had remembered how wonderful she was on Oprah, so I bought it, put in my earphones and listened to Liz read her book out loud to me.
Big Magic is seriously magical and if you are a creative person, then this is the book for you. The impact and wisdom that comes from Liz’s words is life changing and life-affirming. When I was in my writer’s block and before I listened to her advice, it was like I had been living upside down. Then suddenly, within a day, I had been flipped onto my feet and the world made sense again.
The chapters vary from finding courage and inspiration, to adjusting to disappointments and successes within the creative world. But one of the biggest lessons for me was the idea to “make room for fear on your creative journey.”
Liz uses a car trip with a friend as an analogy.
“Understand this. Creativity and I will be the only ones making decisions along the way. I recognise and respect that you are part of this family. I will never exclude you from our activities, but still, your suggestions will not be followed. You are allowed to have a seat and you are allowed to have a voice. But you are not allowed to have a vote. You don’t get to touch the roadmaps. You’re not allowed to suggest detours. You’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you are not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”
When we create art, we tend to be overwhelmed by our fear. We shake and our knees knock because we are scared that fear will consume us and we will fail. But Liz’s idea that we should acknowledge fear and bring it along with us, was remarkable to me. Knowing that fear would never leave my side was a revelation. Now that I knew that it wasn’t going anywhere, I could put rules in place to control it.
Thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice, I became comfortable with the fact that I may never be successful in my creativity.
I am a writer. I write down words and send them out into the world on many different platforms and hope that one day someone will read and connect with them.
With every review, article or story I write, I imagine ripping up the pages of my words and throwing them to the wind. If someone finds those torn words and goes in search for the rest of them, then that is the definition of success for me.
But if no one finds them, if they stay scattered, ignored, walked on and labelled as trash, I will continue writing anyway. I will not succumb to my fear of failure because even though one day my voice will be extinguished, my words will not be.
My words will persist, ever so quietly. They will triumph, eventually.