Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity

Today in class we watched a Ted talk by Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity. We watched this video in the fall and wrote about it, but today we watched it for the purpose of how can you make this work for you as a writer?

I can make a lot of what Elizabeth Gilbert discussed work for me in things that don’t even involve writing. She asked if it is logical that anyone should be afraid of the work that they were put on this earth to do? The answer to that is no.

In ancient Greek, people didn’t believe that anyone was a genius. They believed that people had geniuses. Geniuses were little disembodied spirits/fairies/elves that helped you come up with your creative ideas. If your work was fantastic, then you couldn’t take credit because your genius was just on its game that day. On the other hand, if your work sucked then it wasn’t completely your fault. Your genius was lame that way. This idea can really help me with my writing.

If I can believe that my writing isn’t completely influenced by me, then I can feel okay about myself even if I have an off day and my writing isn’t as wonderful as it should be. When you’re in college, you stay stressed out enough about everything going on in your life without worrying about writers block. If I have a day where no ideas come to me and I have to labor over writing a simple paragraph, then blaming it on my lame genius could make me feel slightly better. Especially if I can be like Tom Waites and talk to my genius.

Elizabeth talked a lot about the pressures a writer feels when coming up with ideas and producing a work. She focused a lot on the expectations we put on creative and artistic individuals. A lot of writers have breakdown, and drink gin at nine o’clock in the morning, as she pointed out. If everyone followed her advice on “divine cockeyed geniuses” and “mystical fairy juices”, then we would not be so afraid to pick up a pen and a sheet of paper and give creativity our best shot. We’re always our own biggest critics. If we use her advice, we will not have just ourselves to blame if we are unsuccessful. We can get mad at our genius and take out our frustrations on them. On the other hand, a genius would also help me keep my ego in check. If I wrote something that I just though was fabulous, then it wouldn’t matter because my genius would have to take some of the credit.

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