Elizabeth Gilbert YouTube

Pep Talk Wednesday: Elizabeth Gilbert on Fear & Authenticity


If you haven’t watched Marie Forleo’s interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, it is definitely worth a watch (especially if you are in the creative fields!) The interview talks about the ideas that are shared in Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic. I watched the interview for the first time a few nights ago and have not been able to stop thinking about it.  There were so many gems and great take-aways.

If you are short on time (the full interview is 47 minutes long), here are my personal take-aways. The video is included below too if you want to watch.

Fear as a Necessary Companion

Gilbert talks about the idea of fear being a necessary companion in any creative process and also life in general. Fear is what keeps us safe and alive but at the same time, it is often also what holds us back from pursuing our creative ventures. So instead of trying to conquer fear or ‘to punch it in the face’, what we should be doing instead is to embrace fear and to bring them along for the ride – just make sure they are in the backseat.  Creativity is all about uncertainty so when your fears speak, you have to just say, “Thank you for how much for how much you care about me. Your services are not needed here, because I’m just writing a poem!”

Creativity will always provoke fear because it asks you to enter into a realm of uncertain outcome. – Elizabeth Gilbert

On Originality and Authenticity

As a marketer, I often have this (irrational) fear of running out of original ideas or not being original enough.  I’ve dismissed many ideas this way – with a simple “it’s probably been done before”. In fact, it has probably been done before but you are allowed to add to the pile.  I guess the beauty of marketing is that ideas can be recycled – as long as you put your own spin to them.  I guess that is called finding inspiration!

On Living a Creative Life

Living creatively requires commitment.  Every pursuit, no matter how glamorous it may seem, comes with a ‘shit sandwich’.  Gilbert says this in her new book, Big Magic, “Finding your true purpose is really about deciding which flavour of shit sandwich you’re really in for.”  Every venture will come with ups and downs, it may pay the bills or it may not. But if it is what you love, despite all the ups and downs, then stick to it, do what you have to and don’t quit.  Luckily for me, my creative outlet does pay the bills.  But all the same, my biggest take-away here is that the road to creativity is not a smooth ride.  Creativity takes dedication and a willingness to try, to venture outside of the box and to not fear failure. There will be days when ideas don’t come easily but it is the price to pay for all the good ideas to follow. Not every idea will turn into a viral campaign but it is the persistence and commitment to innovate that counts.


Here is the video.  I can’t wait to pick up a copy of Big Magic!


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Creative Genius: TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert TED Talks

I am absolutely in love with the TED Talks App for Android!  I downloaded so many TED Talks to watch for my trip – it was the perfect entertainment for those long train rides with no Wi-Fi!  One of the talks I watched was by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author behind the best seller Eat, Pray, Love.  I had read the book years ago before my trip to Bali.  Seeing her name peaked my interest so I went ahead and downloaded her talk.

Her talk is titled “Your Elusive Creative Genius”.  (If you’ve never seen it, you can watch the video here) This talk was given right after she found tremendous success with Eat, Pray, Love.  She was feeling a lot of anxiety over the fact that she might never see that type of success again in her lifetime.

She talks about how this pressure to continuously perform can sometimes get the most of people (especially those in the creative fields). She compares this way of thinking to the ancient times in Rome and in Greece when people believed creativity came from the gods or spirits who would visit whenever they wanted. Humans were only vessels for the creativity.  This way of thinking took the pressure off of the writers because whether their work was good or bad (or simply non-existent), they were not to be blamed.  I had never thought of creativity like that before –  It was just such a strange concept to me!

Of course nowadays, we don’t think like that.  People owned their creativity and if we were caught talking to the invisible creative gods in the corner, we would probably get some weird looks.

But it got me thinking (as most Ted Talks do) – even if I don’t believe in these spirits, I do believe that we need to be open to creativity. I think it’s so important to keep our eyes open and be accustomed to finding inspiration from the smallest and most mundane things.  I love working on this blog because it has opened my eyes to so many great ideas and it keeps my mind open and curious.

So, while I do think Elizabeth’s idea is a bit of a wacky one, I’m glad I watched her talk.  It was… eye-opening.

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