Books Creativity Non-Fiction Personal Development

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert | Book Review


  • Your creativity is important to you
  • You’re struggling with your love/hate relationship with your art
  • You need a reminder why you’re pursuing an art career

Convinced? Click to buy on Amazon.

Etong book na ‘to ay nominee sa Gleniz’s Best Read of 2021 Award. Ganun ko sya nagustuhan. Siguro right book at the right time din. Nung binabasa ko ‘to ang daming moments na gusto ko munang tumigil para namnamin at ramdamin yung impact nung sinabi. Short lang yung book pero medyo nagtagal akong basahin kasi ayokong matapos.

This book answers a lot of my personal questions. I’m so happy na finally naisipan kong basahin ‘to kahit feeling ko noon wala ako masyadong mapupulot. Tapos hindi pa nakatulong na hindi ko ganun kanagustuhan yung Eat, Pray, Love. Pero buti na lang. Eto yung mga tanong na nasagot:

Aside from the obvious (learning how to draw, taking online courses), what else should I equip myself in order for me to be a healthy and thriving artist?

I wrote ‘healthy and thriving’ kasi I try to stay away from the word ‘successful’. Kasi maging successful man ako or hindi, hindi naman ako titigil. I will always paint, I will always do something creative. So ang goal ko lang is maging maayos yung well-being ko while I’m doing it.

Pero as a human being, minsan hindi ko mapipigilan na mag-aspire ng something more. Dun ako nags-struggle kasi minsan hindi nagma-match yung feelings ko sa gusto kong mangyari. Kahit paulit-ulitin ko sa isip ko na ang “why” ko kaya ko ‘to ginagawa ay dahil nage-enjoy ako, because I’m a curious person, at gusto kong mag-improve sa hobby ko na ‘to, minsan hindi talaga maiiwasan eh.

In normal life, if you’re good at something and you work hard at it, you will likely succeed. In creative endeavors, maybe not.

So sabi sa book:

  • Know your “why”
  • Remind yourself of the “why’s” because you will always forget
  • Follow your curiosity
  • Be brave

He didn’t so much teach them how to write poetry, they said, but why: because of delight.

What to do if I’m stressing out too much?

Pursuing a career in this field requires bravery. Kasi walang guarantees. You have to decide early on kung ipagpapatuloy mo pa rin ba kahit maging successful ka or hindi. Minsan nakakapressure lang talaga and yung worst part is, ako lang naman yung nagbibigay ng pressure sa sarili ko. Nakakaasar na ginagawa ko yun sa sarili ko. Bakit ko nga ba pinapahirapan ang sarili ko? Siguro kasi naha-highlight masyado yung mga doubts and fears.

I finally realized that this was a really weird battle for me to be fighting. Defending my weakness? That’s seriously the hill I wanted to die on? As the saying goes: “Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them.” Why would I want to keep my limitations? I didn’t, as it turned out. I don’t want you keeping yours, either.

  • It’s normal to feel scared. And here’s why: When trying to be creative, you’re uncertain of the outcome. Sometimes it turns out great, sometimes it doesn’t live up to your expectations. Understandably, the unknown can be scary. And that’s why fear and creativity goes hand in hand. Being creative is diving into the unknown. So don’t be confused if fear always show up. It’s normal.
  • Still creating even when you’re feeling scared—that’s bravery.
  • Stop highlighting your weaknesses/limitations.
  • Your fear is boring because it’s identical to everyone else’s fear

And if it seems like art just causes suffering and negative emotions all the time, then stop. No one’s forcing you to do this.

Let’s talk about style and being original. I’ve been told that in order to break into the industry, I should “find my own style” and what I found is that it’s really difficult. Sometimes it hinders me to create. What’s the point of doing something if it’s already been done before?

So eto yung question na babalik tayo sa “know your why”. Reminding myself na hindi nga kasi yun ang ultimate goal. Pero yun na ngaaaa. Tao lang akoooo. Gusto ko din naman na magkaron ng recognition kahit papano. Gusto kong ma-publish yung drawing ko sa isang magazine. Gusto ko namang kumita kahit papano. Hay ang hirap i-balance nung dalwa.

I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills.

So napaisip ako. Ni-real talk ko yung sarili ko. Baka naman kasi pinagpipilitan ko lang na yun ang “why” ko pero hindi naman talaga. Baka naman ang “why” ko talaga ay dahil gusto kong kumita or ma-recognize. Pero hindi eh. Honest talaga ako pag sinabi ko na maging successful man ako or hindi, hindi ako titigil na mag-create. Kung bumalik ako sa corporate job ko, hahanap at hahanap ako ng time para magexplore ng kung ano ano. Kasi ganun ang ginawa ko dati nung may trabaho pa ko. Feeling ko nadi-distract lang talaga ko sa mga possibilities. Kelangan ko lang talaga i-remind yung sarili ko kung anong mas importante. Kasi hindi nakakatulong yung stress.

Going back to the original question:

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.

Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.

Ang gandaaa. So yun. Don’t force it. Gawin mo lang yung feel mo. Be authentic with your feelings.

Sometimes I feel like I’m too old for this. That I should’ve started this in my youth when I felt the most creative. What can you say about that?

I am surrounded with eager and passionate teenagers. And minsan I worry na hindi ko kayang sabayan yung energy nila. Kasi 10 years yung gap ko sa kanila at dun ko nafi-feel na ang tanda ko na. Syempre hindi ko naman dinidibdib yung mga thoughts ko na ganun pero minsan sumasagi lang sa isip ko.

To answer this, the author shared the time when she met a very inspiring 90-year old grandma.

For me, at the age of twenty-five, to hear a ninety-year-old widow speak of having her life changed by passion (and so recently!) was a revelation. Meeting Winifred, made me realize that your education isn’t over when they say it’s over; your education is over when you say it’s over. And Winifred—back when she was a mere girl of eighty—had firmly decided: It ain’t over yet.

Ganda! Walang makakapigil kay lola. So yun. As long as you are enjoying and following your curiosity, it’s up to you kung kelan ka magsisimula or titigil. Walang pumipigil sayo.

Most of the time, I feel that I already ran out of creativity juices and that it can’t be replenished. I feel and fear that I lack imagination. How do I overcome this?

Eto yung paulit ulit kong sinasabi kay Kenneth. Na parang wala akong imagination. Kasi hindi ko kayang makapag-create ng walang reference. Although nasagot na rin ‘to dati ng mga hinahangaan kong artists. Na it’s okay daw na magkaron ng references. That they do it all the time. Tsaka pag paulit-ulit kang nagd-drawing, it will be stored sa visual memory mo and soon enough, makakapag-drawing ka na rin ng walang tularan. But then again, drawing with several references (not just one) is okay and it’s very common.

You don’t just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation, and how equipped you are for the weird demands of creative living. Holding yourself together through all the phases of creation is where the real work lies.

And eto rin. Na meron talagang mga moments na wala ka halos maisip. But it shouldn’t stop you from doing something kahit feeling mo nagawa na or pangit. Go lang. It doesn’t have to be perfect and original.

No matter how many hours you spend attempting to render something flawless, somebody will always be able to find fault with it. (There are people out there who still consider Beethoven’s symphonies a little bit too, you know, loud.) At some point, you really just have to finish your work and release it as is—if only so that you can go on to make other things with a glad and determined heart. Which is the entire point.

During unjustifiable lazy moments, what’s your advice to get my ass moving?

Remember that discipline can be your only strength.

Genetic randomness had already determined how much talent I’d been allotted, and destiny’s randomness would account for my share of luck. The only piece I had any control over was my discipline. Recognizing that, it seemed like the best plan would be to work my ass off. That was the only card I had to play, so I played it hard.

There’s also a secret: curiosity.

I believe that curiosity is the secret. Curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living. Curiosity is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.

As time ticked by and an impassioned idea still had not ignited me, I didn’t panic. Instead, I did what I have done so many times before: I turned my attention away from passion and toward curiosity.

During moments of weakness and I feel pressured by external forces to be “successful”, what should I keep in mind?

I have a friend, an aspiring musician, whose sister said to her one day, quite reasonably, “What happens if you never get anything out of this? What happens if you pursue your passion forever, but success never comes? How will you feel then, having wasted your entire life for nothing?” My friend, with equal reason, replied, “If you can’t see what I’m already getting out of this, then I’ll never be able to explain it to you.”

Boom! Tinatamad na ko i-expound basta alam ko na yun.

You can use my Amazon affiliate link to get this book: Thanks!

RATING [5 🌟]

Wala akong masabi. Sobrang para sakin ‘tong book na ‘to. Excited na ko sa padating na physical copy para lagi ko syang nakikita.

At sobrang dami pang quotes na gusto kong i-share. Naka 109 highlights ata ako dito sa book na ‘to. Sobrang dami ko pang natutunan pero masyadong complicated and personal na yung iba. Parang hindi ko sya kayang gawan ng comprehensive na review sa sobrang ganda.

And if greatness should ever accidentally stumble upon you, let it catch you hard at work. Hard at work, and sane.

Click to view my digital bookshelf.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s