Fiction Writing Book Review – Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Book Title: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Pages: 276

My Rating:


Big Magic is essential reading for the writer who is hiding her first novel in a drawer because she’s scared to see what the world would say about it. And for the closeted writer who has yet to rile up the courage to publicly say, “I am a writer.” And for the writer watching his Amazon stats daily, growing more and more depressed at the lack of reads or reviews.

It’s for anyone who gets creative ideas but doesn’t know what to do with them, who comes up with endless excuses to ignore them, or who wants to write but feels too inadequate, too immature, too old, too uneducated or too unattractive. If there are words ready to escape your soul but you’ve locked them away rather than setting them free, you must read Big Magic.

I first read Big Magic in 2015 when it was first released. It was one of the few books that I have ever reread, and it is now one of the very, very few books that I have reread multiple times. I read it whenever I start to feel too inadequate to write, when my fears start to overtake my creativity, and when I simply need to remind myself that I’m not the only person in this world dealing with the emotional drama that comes with passionate writing.


Is Big Magic a Fiction Writing Book?


When I decided to include fiction writing book reviews on this website, I instantly thought of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. While it isn’t dedicated to the craft of writing and it won’t tell you how to write better, it does something far better. It tells you how to break through the psychological barriers that stop so many fiction writers from producing and releasing the work that they were put in this world to create.

Mindset training is essential for any fiction writer, and this book is a great starting point for writers at all levels. I appreciate that Elizabeth Gilbert is so open and honest about her own shortcomings, her writing process, and the ups and downs that come with success in the writing world. If you’re an aspiring novelist or short story writer with big dreams, this book will give you a good glimpse into what happens when you make it to “the top.”

This is also just an excellent glimpse into the literary life of one successful author.


What Will Big Magic Teach You?


Elizabeth Gilbert uses this book to address the intersection of creativity and fear, which I have experienced throughout my lifetime as a writer. The book explores a unique view of mysticism when it comes to creative writing ideas, and it made me realize that my experiences regarding the magic of great ideas aren’t as kooky and odd as I always thought.

embrace fearThis book gave me permission to simply be a writer. It gives every writer the confidence to simply enjoy the creation of art, fully embracing wherever it leads you.

Most importantly, it puts fear in its place. Elizabeth doesn’t tell her readers how to overcome fear or how to stomp it into the ground so that it’s never again a problem. She has a message that is far more powerful, far more realistic, and incredibly freeing for me as a creative soul who has always been bound by incredible fear.

I consider Big Magic pure inspiration for all creatives. It’s basically a therapy session that you didn’t even know you needed.


Who Should Read Big Magic?


I believe all writers, painters, photographers, dancers and others with a creative soul should read this book at least once. It doesn’t matter what you thought of Elizabeth Gilbert’s previous hit novel, Eat Pray Love. This book stands entirely on its own merits and is an entirely different book.

If you don’t yet consider yourself a “real” writer, definitely read this book. If you consider yourself an “aspiring” writer, you must read this book. If you’re an indie author with any level of success or no success at all, I recommend you pick up this book immediately. If you have just always felt like you were meant to write but haven’t taken it seriously yet, click the link below and read Big Magic.

8 thoughts on “Fiction Writing Book Review – Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

  1. Atlas says:

    Hey Theresa,

    I really appreciate this review of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I have personally been struggling not with writing anything as large as a book or novel but just simple online posts, blog entries, comments, and all around getting my online presence more expansive. Throughout these activities I always feel a sense of self doubt in my writing and my creative voice.

    This book is now my next in line to be read as it seems like it will be just the advise i need to be more confident in my writing ability and overall public presence.

    Any Chance you would know about any books that are specifically aimed towards online writers?

    Thanks for this great review,

    • Theresa Hammond says:

      Hey, Atlas! Have you heard of the book Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy? It’s great for productivity and just getting stuff done and overcoming procrastination and related issues. I also have benefited a lot from The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. It’s all about how little things add up if you’re consistent. I hope those recommendations help, but Big Magic is also helpful to anyone who has to put themselves out into the world and is held back by fear.

  2. HappyB says:

    Hi Theresa.
    I love the line: ” a therapy session that you didn’t even know you needed.”
    I have told stories to children over the years and they have mostly been well received. Now I want to do a complete book taken from one of those stories.
    When I tell the story, I am making it up as I go along and there is a certain amount of interaction with the children when they ask questions.
    It is scary getting that put into a book form without the interaction.
    This book sounds like real big magic and I must have the book.
    Thanks for an inspirational article and I wish you luck in your own writing.

    • Theresa Hammond says:

      Why not write the book with their interactions? Just record it and then write from the recording! That sounds like such a fun way to write.

  3. Chris says:

    Hi Theresa.

    Telling from your review this book sounds like something not only writers (and as you said yourself painters, photographers, basically any creative) would profit from, but rather ANYONE who’s trying to learn something new and scared of failing and telling others about it.

    Especially that last part resonated with me: When I started out learning to code (a very technical skill, but somewhat creative as well), it was super hard to call myself a software developer. Once you start giving yourself credit for what you have learned and the progress you’ve made it gets so much easier to identify yourself with the goal you’ve set, go out and share your progress with others. If THIS book can teach aspiring writer just that, it’s totally worth it!

    Thanks for the great review,

    • Theresa Hammond says:

      Thanks for reading, Chris! My son is learning to code, so I know where you’re coming from. He’s only 14, so they are starting young now and that helps!

  4. Karen Noone says:

    I really think I need to read this book. I have always felt I had a book or two in me. Secretly it is one of my desires.
    The confidence to write one so far has eluded me. I’ve started many but finished none.
    Instead I write for my blog and have written at least a books worth of blogs if not two.
    I loved Eat pray love, it moved me to tears several times… not sure the movie did it justice though !

    • Theresa Hammond says:

      Hey, Karen! I thought the book was better than the movie, but that’s just my preference maybe. This book has some amazing stories about what happens to your novel ideas if you don’t act on them. It’s worth reading if you have ever had an idea and that wasn’t completed into a novel.

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