Author Elizabeth Gilbert on creativity

I just saw this wonderful talk that Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Pray Eat Love, gave last year for TED.

Gilbert talks about creativity, and proposes that we should all conceptualize the creative spark the way the Greeks and Romans did, as an inscrutable exterior force that bestows genius upon the artist as it may, instead of continuing with the Renaissance idea that the genius is individual and inhabits within. Her point is that the idea of genius as other frees the artist from the tyranny of self-doubt and self-hatred that tortures many artists, and which has led to the stereotype of the tortured artist (and which has contributed to so many artist suicides).

Gilbert argues that as an artist all you should do is show up and do your life’s work, without fixating on how it will be received or whether you have what it takes or can top your own success. Just show up and do your own thing, and attribute everything else to that whimsical, irrepressible, enigmatic sprite –muse, daemon, genius—to take care (or not) of everything else. It is liberating, Gilbert claims.

I have decided to embrace Gilbert’s idea, and have decided to name my own creative daemon Ariel, after the magical androgynous sprite in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. If that Ariel could help Prospero shipwreck enemies, find a mate for his daughter, and reclaim his lost dukedom, I think my Ariel could help me through NaNoWriMo 2010.

(Latest word count: 14,140 words!)


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