Creative Living Beyond Fear

This is a summary of one of the most inspiring and motivating books that’ll give you the courage you need to pursue your creative interests by showing you how to deal with your fears, notice ideas and act on them and take the stress out of creation.

"Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert. 

It might have been done before, but it hasn’t been done by you! Your life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous, and you want to do really interesting things and make really interesting things while you’re still here.

Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is best known for publishing the international bestseller Eat, Pray, Love in 2006, which was turned into a movie with Julia Roberts in 2010. 
Eat, Pray, Love is Gilbert’s memoir of the year she spent traveling the world after getting a divorce, where she focused on food in Italy, found her spirituality in India and ultimately fell in love again in Bali. 
The book spent almost 200 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Big Magic is a non-fiction book, that describes her creative process.


There’s a lot of talk out there these days that you “have to overcome your fears.”

As if somehow, you could do something, and that would magically make them go away forever.

That’s not the case. Steven Pressfield has shown us that artists who truly care will always have to face their fears, even long after they’ve become huge successes.

Elizabeth Gilbert agrees.

She says instead of overcoming your fears, just get comfortable with them.Elizabeth in this book will teach you how to be creative in spite of your fears, how ideas work, where creativity comes from, and how you can make sure your creativity keeps flowing freely.


Millions of creative people all around the world grew up with the constant reminder that getting a “good education” and finding a “serious job” was the only path that led to happiness. Many experienced failure and hardship in their early attempts in making art. The result? Countless creative spirits who aren’t living out their full potential. In our skeptical world, deciding to pursue your creativity is one of the scariest choices you can make. But it doesn’t have to be. Living a creative life isn’t about striving for fame or dedicating your mind, body and soul to your craft. It simply means living a life led by curiosity instead of fear. What’s more, there’s no set of criteria that deems something to be creative or not. A creative pursuit is simply something that others might see as crazy, but that makes you feel bold, brave or gives you butterflies. Whether it’s painting, writing poetry, rock climbing or cooking, it should be that special thing that excites your curiosity. Do you know what your creative pursuit could be, but still feel hesitant? Well, you’ve got your fears to thank for that. If you’re worried that you don’t have the skills, that it’s too late for you to start, that no one will care about what you have to say, or that you don’t have the time or money to invest, then your brain is doing a great job of stopping you from doing what you really want to do. How can you counter this? We’re often told to let go of our fears, but honestly, this isn’t always possible. Instead, the best thing you can do is simply get comfortable with your fears. After all, they’re only natural!In a creative life, your passions coexist with your fears. Your fears are more than welcome to join the ride and give feedback, but you won’t take any detours because of them, nor let them take the wheel. Let your curiosity take the wheel, and put your fears into the backseat. Fears are nothing more than passengers in the backseat who keep you company and remind you of the things you care about and that are important to you. Nothing more, nothing less. So learn to let your fears and passions coexist, and it’ll help you move on and write the next page, take the next stroke with your painting brush or record the next karaoke video – no matter what anyone thinks, including you.

Know that feeling when a thought takes hold of you and won’t let go? If it seems to show up everywhere and keeps pestering you in quiet moments, then it’s likely you’ve got a great idea on your hands. Don’t let the grocery shopping, TV or other obligations distract you from it. It’s up to you to accept it and work with it. If not, the idea will float on until it can find someone else to make it reality. In this way, ideas are rather mystical things. The author experienced this firsthand with one of her friends and fellow authors. 

Sources of inspiration are all around you, and you’ve got plenty of talent. Yet, you constantly end up stuck halfway, or even struggling to get started. What’s the problem? The truth is that most creatives are their own biggest obstacle. Pursuing art is a daring move, and we often tell ourselves that we’re not up to the challenge. Our inner voices jeer at us for thinking we could create something unique or turn our ideas into reality. 

To get yourself out of a creative block, you need to stand up to your inner voices. You are entitled to create, so give yourself permission! And say it loud: “I’m a writer,” or “I’m an actor,” or “I’m a photographer.” This way, you’ll announce to yourself (and the universe!) that you’re following your passion, and nothing can stop you. Not even rejection can stand in your way. 

Yes, rejection is always a tough pill to swallow, but you shouldn’t take it personally. Those judging your work are only human. Before the author had any published work to her name, she sent off a piece to Story magazine, which was swiftly rejected by the editor-in-chief. She remarked that the story was good, but it “fell short.” Then, years later, when the author had a few bestsellers under her belt, her agent sent the exact same story to the same magazine. This time, the very same editor-in-chief thought it was brilliant, and that it somehow reminded her of something special . . . probably the story she’d dismissed the first time! 

All in all, your art isn’t there to serve your editors, or even your audience. It’s for you, as a cathartic activity that gives you energy and brings you peace. If the stories that you explore help you come to terms with your own problems, then it doesn’t matter if they’re fresh or innovative. 


The thought “I’m going to start a daily blog” sounds great in your head – for about 12 seconds.

Then the fears and doubts kick in.

“You’ll run out of things to say after a week.”

“You don’t have the discipline to publish daily.”

“You’ll produce a ton of crap.”

Ahh, self-talk, where would we be without it?

This little conversation is one I had in my own head before starting this blog that you're reading now. But I went ahead and gave myself permission to do it anyway, get passionate and share whatever I really want to share. (Big thanks to my colleagues who supported and encouraged me to do so because sometimes it's not just fear that is holding us back, it's the lack of support and encouragement. One of the most effective ways to help others is to offer encouraging words. The word encourage means "to inspire courage." All of us have areas in which we feel insecure and lack courage, and that lack of courage often hinders us from accomplishing the positive things that we would like to do, but that does not mean we must wait for others to support us in order to face our fears. Actually, good people are there to remind us of who we are, and what are our strengths when we forget what distinguishes us from others)

Sure, the first summaries on here aren’t nearly as good as some of the newer ones, but being okay with producing something that’s not as good is exactly what I needed to do before I was able to get here in the first place.

You have a right to create. No matter where you’re starting from. Whether you have always had a talent, or start at absolute zero.

Announce to yourself and the world that you’re here to chase your passion, regardless of rejections and reactions.


There’s a difference between being original and being authentic. The latter is ultimately more valuable. So, get passionate and share what you really want to share.

Creative people often struggle with the need to be “taken seriously.” Whether it’s from friends, partners or relatives, artists feel pressure to make their commitment to their passion seem legitimate. Many creatives even spend years getting academic qualifications for this reason. But is this really necessary?

The truth is that you don’t need a degree to do what you love. Only real life experience will give you the knowledge to pursue your craft. The author’s bestseller Eat, Pray, Love is the result of her personal journey to find the joy in living after a rocky divorce. 

Instead of trying to prove yourself as a “serious” artist, stay playful. Tom Waits imagines his music as jewelry for the minds of his listeners. You could make art that’s strange, comforting, amusing, intimate or angry. Some people will love it, while others will hate it. And that’s perfectly fine!

It’s never too late to start creating. By getting comfortable with your fears and forgetting about what others expect of you, you can give yourself the freedom to pursue the art you’ve always wanted to make. Live curiously, never take things too seriously and you’ll find that making art has never been easier. 

Actionable advice:

Dress for the novel you want to write.

The next time you find yourself staring frustratedly at a blank page, get out of your chair and head for your wardrobe. Pick out a great outfit, have a hot shower, do your hair, brush your teeth, get dressed and put some perfume or cologne on. It might seem silly, but by freshening up your body you can refresh your mind and seduce your creativity back into action. Try it for yourself!      


In other words, Gilbert’s message is this: just accept that you need to create. Accept that this is a part of you, that you are ALREADY “creatively legitimate.” And just do what you naturally feel compelled to do. Do it with joy—even when it gets difficult—and don’t worry about how it will be received. If you are called to be a maker, then you will just have to make. Own who you are, for better or worse.

So that’s what I’m doing from the moment I finished reading this book. I’m owning it. This is me stating my intent: 

Hello, world. My name is Khawlah. I am a writer. I am a summarizer. And I enjoy what I do. I share it with the world because I find joy, it energizes me, it gives me peace of mind and most importantly it brings me happiness.  

If you are looking for motivation this is the book for you. If you need a kick in the pants to start a project that you've been dreaming of, then pick up this book. A great book to read on those dumpy days or if you have ever felt in a slump and not living your life to the fullest. 

In conclusion, I loved this book. I thought it was very inspiring and would highly recommend it. 5 stars (I wish if there's more) to Elizabeth Gilbert!