Big Magic and Get to Work

I recently read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and while it is a book intended for “creative souls.” It really hits home for writers. She talks about creativity and harnessing the spirit needed to bring forth a creation.

big magicIn her book, Elizabeth tells the story of having a great idea with a South American plot for a book. This was an idea that had never been covered before (involves people from Minn., murder, and developers) and she “just felt” it would make for a good book. Problem was she kept putting it aside, things interfered and the story never got told.

One day she meets Ann Patchett and they embrace – soul sisters in writing. A few months later, they have lunch and Ann tells Elizabeth she is working on a new book about South America.

“Well isn’t that funny,: said Elizabeth, “I was working on an idea like that, but then let it go.”

Ann asked Elizabeth to describe her plot line and it turned out to be the *exact* same plot line that Ann was working on.

Co-incidence? Trends? Timing? Who knows? But you have to admit, it is a little woo, woo hair raising.

Elizabeth uses this as an example of Big Magic (as in there is a creative force that surrounds us.) She puts forth the intriguing idea that creative ideas can “visit” us and then choose to leave if we don’t nurture them.

I’ve seen this in my own writing. I’ll have a great idea for a story, not be able to devote the time to give to its “birth” and then I’ll see that someone somewhere else picked up the ball and ran with it. In a way, this philosophy of “visiting ideas” makes it easier – it falls into the “if you love something let it go, if it was yours…” It’s a way to make lemonade out of lemons – guess that idea was never really mine to keep.

But it’s also a cautionary tale. Great ideas need to be nurtured and they need work, lots of work. If you have a fantastic idea then you absolutely need to set the time aside to work on it so that it can grow and mature.

Because if you don’t it’s very likely that someone else will.


Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). ( She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

8 thoughts on “Big Magic and Get to Work

  1. One of my favorite books! I listened to it again right before the Blogging A to Z Challenge, and I’m convinced it helped set my creativity free for that month. After the challenge I hit a block, then regrouped and discovered a new direction for my blog (for now), and listened to it again, just last week. Amazing how every time I reread (or re-listen) to a favorite book, a different part resonates depending on what’s going on in my life at the time! Love LOVE Liz Gilbert! 😀

  2. This is an excellent book. On recommendation I bought myself a copy. It appealed to me so much that I borrowed an audio version from the library. I have since recommended it to many friends. I can see me reading it many times.

  3. Pingback: Big Magic and Get to Work — Live to Write – Write to Live – Write Along For The Ride

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