Eat, pray, show up
Author Elizabeth Gilbert knows a thing or two about the pressures on a creative person to succeed.
Her international bestseller Eat, Pray, Love was a mega blockbuster. The kind that happens once in a cohort of writers, rather than in a single lifetime. The kind that also creates anxieties.
“Will I ever do that?” asks the fledgling writer.
“Will I ever do that again?” asks the one who’s already done it.
Gilbert discusses how this pressure often leads to serious mental health issues in the lives of writers:
… and even the ones who didn’t literally commit suicide seem to be really undone by their gifts, you know.”
Norman Mailer, just before he died, last interview, he said, “Every one of my books has killed me a little more.” An extraordinary statement to make about your life’s work.
But we don’t even blink when we hear somebody say this, because we’ve heard that kind of stuff for so long and somehow we’ve completely internalized and accepted collectively this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked and that artistry, in the end, will always ultimately lead to anguish.”
So here are some tips for overcoming the anti-reading reading culture:
Lucky for us, Gilbert’s worked out a strategy for dealing with “odious” and “dangerous” problem of accepting the fear produced by the creative life.
She returns to the old-fashioned notion of the muse:
But maybe it doesn’t have to be quite so full of anguish if you never happened to believe, in the first place, that the most extraordinary aspects of your being came from you.
But maybe if you just believed that they were on loan to you from some unimaginable source for some exquisite portion of your life to be passed along when you’re finished, with somebody else.
And, you know, if we think about it this way, it starts to change everything.”
As long as your muse is in place, she says, all you have to do is show up every day:
Don’t be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance…”
Gilbert reminds us to keep moving for it’s only when we down tools that we’re guaranteed to fail.
Watch her inspirational TED talk to find out more about how to live a sane creative life.
A must see if: you are anxious about being able to produce.