Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity

I've gone on ad nauseum about how I love Elizabeth Gilbert and TED.  So obviously I love them together.  In this talk she describes creativity/inspiration in a way that many other writers that I admire have: as a gift given by God. One of my favorite books is Walking on Water by Madeline L'engle.  In the book she described writing as her vocation: her calling from God.  She felt that it was her job to write everyday and do her best. In her opinion it was God's job if he chose to speak through her.  Elizabeth Gilbert describes writing the same way on her website, saying that her commitment to be a writer was as sacred as any wedding vow.  She feels that she cannot guarantee that what she writes will touch people, she can only promise to write.  Right now I'm also reading a book from Anne Lammott that describes writing in a very similar way.

All three women are writers who I highly admire.  All three describe feeling that their calling was to write but that bursts of greatness were a blessing for which they were the conduits not the source.

Although I'm just learning to write I totally get it.  I am not an accomplished writer by any stretch of the imagination but I try to post everyday in the hopes that occasionally something worthwhile will emerge.  And like them I feel like I have little control. When I write a good post I know it is good even before people tell me.  I know it that way you do when you nail a test, or hit the high note, pirouette with perfect balance or stick the landing off the pommel horse.  It just feels right! Unfortunately for me (and you my dear readers!) I have little control over when that happens or not... sometimes I blog stuff knowing that it's not good but I'm unable to make it better.  This terribly wounds the perfectionist in me, so I have to tell myself over and over again:  Just like all of life, the commitment is to try your best everyday, the rest is up to God.

Description from TED:  TED Talks Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses -- and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. It's a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

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Posted on May 17, 2010 and filed under Nothing to Do with Anything.