I am a big Elizabeth Gilbert fan- I loved Eat Pray Love and The Signature of All Things (City of Girls is on my TBR list)- so I looked forward to hearing her thoughts on the creative process. Sadly, this isn’t one of her best works. It feels devoid of substance, more like an influencer post on how to live a more creative life.
The ideas in this book could have been a 10 minute TED talk: create for creation’s sake rather than trying to rely on art for a paycheque; give your creative ideas space and time to take flight; don’t mourn ideas that got away; don’t be scared of failing in your creative endeavors. Although there is merit to these ideas, they are a lot of surface suggestions, and come from what at this point is a privileged place. Particularly problematic is her exaltation to would-be artists that they shouldn’t plan on making a living from their art. Although I am pained to agree that this is likely practical advice, she isn’t the right messenger (thank you privileged white woman who makes a living from your her art for telling me the same path isn’t one that the rest of us should count on). It also doesn’t do anything to advocate for the sort of structural supports that would give less privileged people the opportunities that she has had- if you want to live a more creative life it probably helps to have more social safety supports. Rather than spending a few hours reading this book, I would recommend taking those hours and doing whatever it is that gives voice to your creative desires- play some music, paint a watercolour, bake a cake, plant a garden.