Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

4 MinutesIn Book Reviews

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Time to Read: Over a weekend, in six sections of 30 to 60 minutes, or 5 hours 6 minutes on audiobook.

£6.29 from Amazon


While it is most squarely aimed at aspiring writers, it works well for would-be entrepreneurs or those leading teams of people with a mix of skills and backgrounds as well. Gilbert’s lessons learned on her journey to become a writer, and following recommendations, are just as applicable to how to build business streams – expressed in a different context this was very helpful. Those who struggle with their creative inspiration will also find valuable tools within its pages.


An open and honest book, Gilbert shares willingly how and why she has failed, providing particularly compelling reading.

One particularly brilliant example was as a writer on GQ magazine, when after toiling for months on a feature, her editor had the courage and leadership skills to tell her it just was not good enough and to move on. How her editor handled this was an excellent lesson in not only how to manage high performers but also that highly difficult process of knowing when to let go of the sunk cost of time. The book became steadily more inspirational.

Ironically, the first section on perseverance in particular made me not want to persevere with the book – it felt smug and dull in parts. Although disappointingly hard to get through, it was worth making the effort – the subsequent five were far better quality reads.

As a business coach, I often work with people who believe that at some point, there will be enough time to do all the things they want to do in a day or a week. I echo Gilbert’s firm stance – you never “get” the time, you have to find the time to do the things you really want or need to do. The magically perfect day is never going to happen. Her tips on “dressing for the novel you want to write [the business you want to get]” are spot on. Equally, nothing will ever be perfect or Plato “being a deeply disciplined half ass” will do…..done is better than good”. Hard work does not guarantee success – but then what is success anyway – and what any of us produce is not sacred, just because we believe it is.


Gilbert started her professional life writing features and interviews for glossy magazines. Her best selling ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ – later a smash film – was written during this time. She has written books in several genres including further novels.

A great storyteller, Gilbert’s writing style means this is definitely not a book for someone looking for a cut-to-the-chase approach. The experiences and anecdotes make the book less a business diktat and more a sharing of experiences, with a huge dose of encouragement and inspiration.

Random Fiction Recommendation:

‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts. A 933-page epic novel set in Australia, India and Afghanistan, Roberts delves into the genre of ‘faction’ as the narrative mirrors his own life. The story was completely compelling and would sit in my Top 10 novels.  It was sad to reach the last page and I was both forced and inspired to think about the difference we can make to others through both big and small actions.

Please note, this book review is available as a pdf on request.

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