Dancing to the Song of the Disciplined Half-Ass: After Reading 'Big Magic'

Dancing to the Song of the Disciplined Half-Ass: After Reading 'Big Magic'
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Elizabeth Gilbert is my new spirit animal.

I have profoundly changed my approach to creating since I read this book.

So much so, that I dedicated second half of this review to capturing my learnings from Big Magic to the tune of Total Eclipse of the Heart. Because--if nothing else-- Elizabeth has taught me it is okay to "be the weirdo who dares to enjoy."

Many of you know Elizabeth Gilbert from her wildly popular Eat, Pray, Love, but allow me to explain the shit that got thrown down in Big Magic. I promise that you need to read this book, whether you are an artist, not an artist, a writer, not a writer, a poet, not a poet, a dancer or not a dancer.

As Elizabeth says,

If you're alive, you're a creative person.

The problem is that most of us have limited definitions of what it takes to be creative. We hear the tiny whisper inside of us that wants to create something, but we squash it or talk ourselves out of it. Elizabeth explains, "The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust--and those elements are universally accessible."

She challenges us that we should be striving for authenticity, not originality: "Most things have already been done, but not by you."

What a freeing thought!

The most important lesson for me in Big Magic is being less attached to the outcome. Elizabeth admonishes that our creative work should NOT be like a child to us. That is way too much pressure to put on ourselves. She tells us we need to embrace curiosity and soul and if we fall flat on our faces, we "chop up that failure and use it as bait for the next project."

This approach may seem counter-intuitive, but I found it extremely appealing. It unleashed something in me. First, I took the pressure off my writing process and played the "trickster" by writing this review of Brené Brown's new book Rising Strong, a book which is also mentioned in Big Magic. I have already started creating an outline for a fiction book that has nothing to do with my business; I want to write a story that I'm curious about. It may end up never being published, but I will have done it for the love of the process. I'm taking Elizabeth's philosophy to heart that I won't kill my creativity by expecting it to support me financially.

How did I uncover a hidden passion while reading this book? This simple question:

What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?

While you ponder your own answer to this question, I want to share one other key lesson from Big Magic. Elizabeth teaches about the importance of knowing when something is "good enough," or becoming a "disciplined half-ass."

How many times do we never allow creative works to see the light of day because it's not perfect? No more!

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I felt the most appropriate way to express my gratitude was to spend hours taking my notes from Big Magic, song lyrics to an epic 80s hit, and rhymezone.com to produce a somewhat irreverent tribute. Because I wanted to. Because when I was younger I loved taking song lyrics and turning them into another song and sometimes playing it on my ukelele. I did it because I loved it and nobody had told me yet that it wasn't cool.

Here it is for you to laugh at, laugh with, sing to, share with a friend, adopt as your theme song--it doesn't matter. I'm too busy working on my next creative project. It's good enough. If this post gets enough shares on social media, I could be convinced to play a ukelele version of this...and maybe Elizabeth would join me? Evidence on her Instagram account shows promise. Like I said, she is spirit animal material.

Total Eclipse for My Art (the unofficial anthem of the disciplined half-ass)

Buckle down, every now and then I get a little bit phony and fear I'm never gettin' found.
Buckle down, every now and then I get a little bit fired up, dressing up in gowns all my fears.
Buckle down, every now and then I have a little bit of courage when my peers start to sigh.
Buckle down, every now and then I get a little more clarified and will create because I'm alive.
Buckle down, revise, make a vow and then I find my art.
Buckle down, revise, make a vow and then I find my art.

Buckle down, every now and then I get a little bit reckless and I scream this is something worthwhile.
Buckle down, every now and then I get a little bit selfish as I'm striving to have Ego disarm.
Buckle down, every now and then I stare a little bit blankly at what I've made and I can't recall why.
Buckle down, every now and then I get a little more clarified and will create because I'm alive.
Buckle down, revise, make a vow and then I find my art.
Buckle down, revise, make a vow and then I find my art.

And I need to know I'm right
And I know it doesn't matter
And with my uncontrolled excite
I won't withhold the pleasure
And I'm only making it light
'Cause I'm rejecting all the pressure
At least until it's the end of my wine
My dignity tries to hold me back all of the time
If you don't like what I do, 'make your own fucking art'
Curiosity not passion will sustain my fresh start
I just need to invite...

Whatever's going to excite
Whatever's going to excite

Once upon a time I was calling above
But now I'm recalling--take heart
There is nothing I won't do for
A total eclipse for my art
Once upon a time there was fight and much strife
But now there's no more picking apart
Trickster I will play...
A total eclipse for my art

[I didn't finish because a second verse was too much...and this is much more in keeping with the disciplined half-ass mindset]

Buy the book. Create whatever your heart delights in. Work hard at it and don't take yourself too seriously.

Now if you will excuse me, I've got to "calm down and get back to work."

If you are looking for more resources to make brave choices and to take better care of yourself, check out my free 30 page eBook at secondhandtherapy.com

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