Elizabeth Gilbert is just one of the renowned teachers who will be guiding us at Wanderlust O’ahu 2019. Spend an intimate day with the worldwide best-selling author for a unique personal development immersion on Thursday, February 28. Elizabeth will be talking about what she considers to be the 5 major necessary emotional components of living a creative life: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence and Trust, and guiding participants through writing exercises and other creative expression.
Many of us know Elizabeth Gilbert as the writer of Eat, Pray, Love, a novel that illustrates a young woman in her earnest pursuit of finding balance and joy by traveling throughout Italy, India, and Indonesia. The novel, which was famously produced into a film featuring Julia Roberts, was both criticized and praised on extreme levels, making the novel (and Gilbert) a cultural phenomenon.
Since then, Gilbert has written several other books, including the follow-up memoir Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, and the novel, The Signature of All Things, both of which received positive reviews. But it’s Gilbert’s latest book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, that’s generating pertinent information for artists, writers, musicians, and anyone else taking on a daunting creative endeavor.
The New York Times describes the book as follows:
Big Magic wants to help its readers live creatively, which does not necessarily mean ‘pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts,’ but ‘living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.’ If you want to write or act or paint, this book wants to help you do that. But if you want to take figure skating lessons, learn to draw or build model airplanes, this book wants to help you do that too.
Essentially, Gilbert is instructing us to confront his or her fears and approach the task with curiosity rather than trepidation. In an interview with Marie Forelo, Gilbert says:
All of us are here because fear is protecting us. It’s doing it’s job, and it’s doing it’s job beautifully, it’s just that it’s all jacked up on Red Bull… Creativity will always provoke your fear because it’s asking you to venture into a realm of an uncertain outcome.
Gilbert makes a good point here. Fear is the part of our brains that reminds us not to text and drive, or walk down dangerous alleyways, but it’s also that sophomoric voice that insists we stray from creative projects, warning us of all the terrible outcomes that may occur should we venture on. These vary from person to person, but some of the most common ones include failure, rejection, or a waste of time. But Gilbert reminds us that fear’s voice doesn’t belong in creative solutions.
Fear doesn’t get to make any decisions in creative ventures, because, frankly, with all due respect to Grandfather Fear, it simply doesn’t even understand what creativity is…You can’t let it have any control over your creative choices.
In both the interview and the novel, one thing is quite clear; Gilbert is an eloquent and confident writer. And while tackling that pesky voice of fear (which psychologists aptly name the inner critic), may come easy to Gilbert, this is not necessarily the case for everyone involved. Tackling fear requires mental strength.
Our inner critic is often much louder, and much more persistent, than that calm voice gently encouraging us to push on and try. Don’t be discouraged if you find fear sneaking into your mental bedroom; rather take baby steps in approaching it. Because in the grand scheme of things, that poem, business venture, or art project will be well worth the skepticism.
Join Elizabeth for her Immersion in O’ahu, and both confront—and gain the tools to overcome—this creative fear. See you on the North Shore!
Amanda Kohr is the editor at Wanderlust. You can find her exploring new highways, drinking diner coffee, and on Instagram.