Writing Lessons from Big Magic: Face Your Fear


Big Magic Face Your Fears #travelwritingAre you wondering what are the Big Magic Secrets to living a Creative Life Beyond Fear? My path has been full of bumps in the road and the most important thing is as Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book, “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear:

  Next, next, next—always next. Keep moving, keep going. Whatever you do, try not to dwell too long on your failures.”

The most important thing is to continue. As Gilbert tells us: “The central question upon which all creative living hinges is ‘Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?’” I believe that you do! I will keep hope for you as others kept hope for me when I could not see it. It is crucial that you live “a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.

I have been afraid of fear and like Gilbert very terrified of things. But like her, I did it anyway. You must decide like Eleanor Roosevelt said and “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Big Magic Find Courage #travelwritingThere are so many things to be afraid of and Gilbert shares these: “You’re afraid you have no talent…You’re afraid somebody else already did it better. …You’re afraid you won’t be taken seriously…You’re afraid that someday you’ll look back on your creative endeavors as having been a giant waste of time, effort, and money…You’re afraid of being exposed as a hack, or a fool, or a dilettante, or a narcissist…You’re afraid you neglected your creativity for so long that now you can never get it back. You’re afraid you’re too old to start.” Whatever your fears are, it is time to put yourself back in the driver’s seat. Gilbert shares a letter to fear:

Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously…But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this car…Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way…You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote…But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”

I love the idea to write a letter to fear and tell her, you are not allowed to drive! The driver and decision maker will no longer be fear. You can do it!

Big Magic Believe in Yourself #travelwritingI really loved when Gilbert said: “Look at your ancestors. Look at the ones who were immigrants, or slaves, or soldiers, or farmers, or sailors, or the original people who watched the ships arrive with the strangers onboard. Go back far enough and you will find people who were not consumers, people who were not sitting around passively waiting for stuff to happen to them. You will find people who spent their lives making things. This is where you come from. This is where we all come from. Human beings have been creative beings for a really long time—long enough and consistently enough that it appears to be a totally natural impulse.” We are all creators, we are all creative. “If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.” Do not worry that you are not creative enough or good enough, just begin.

Gilbert echoed what I heard recently at my ceramics studio. David was teaching a group of new students and one asked, “How do you know when the clay is centered?” David responded: “When you are done, you’re done.” I love this response although my guess is it did not feel helpful to the student who asked who did not know when to be done. This permission to decide felt remarkable to me and was echoed when Gilbert wrote:

When can you start pursuing your most creative and passionate life? You can start whenever you decide to start.

I invite you to start now. Share a story in my We Said Go Travel Writing Award. This is my 11th Travel Writing Competition and nearly 2000 writers from 75 countries have shared their stories. Tell your tale, it is good enough, it is important enough and we are waiting for you.

Big Magic Be Creative #travelwriting

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

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