TC 277: Cafe Book Club – Big Magic: Permission

TC 277: Cafe Book Club – Big Magic: Permission

In this episode we continue our discussion of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. This week we’re talking about Permission.

In Big Magic, Gilbert writes: “Defending yourself as a creative person begins by defining yourself. It begins when you declare your intent. Stand up tall and say it aloud, whatever it is.”

Key concept from this section:

You don’t need permission to be creative; it is an instinctual part of being human. If anything, people should embrace their creative entitlement.

And if you’re not an “artist” you still don’t need permission to live a creative life, no matter what type of work you do. You can be a creative engineer, a creative nurse, farmer, or any other occupation. It’s not so much what you do that matters; what matters is that you give yourself permission to use your innate creativity in all facets of your life, and let things unfold as they will.


The Color Spectrum at the Guggenheim

John Morse brought a pop-up installation to the Guggenheim earlier this month. Six seemingly random people wandered around the museum and then slowly gathered on the railing to form a rainbow. Morse did not ask permission from the museum, but he was pleased when one of the visitors who had seen the rainbow performers  gather tapped him on the shoulder and said “Did you see the art? Look, it’s art!”

Click the photo below to read the article.

John Morse brought a pop-up installation to the Guggenheim earlier this month. Jaynie Gillman Crimmons



In order to be free to create, free to explore, “you must possess a fierce sense of personal entitlement, which I hope you will learn to cultivate”. Entitlement doesn’t mean “behaving like a princess, or acting as though the world owes you anything whatsoever. No, creative entitlement means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that–merely by being here–you are allowed to have a voice and vision of your own”.

Elizabeth says “The poet David Whyte calls this sense of creative entitlement “the arrogance of belonging,” and claims that it is an absolutely vital privilege to cultivate if you wish to interact more vividly with life. Without this arrogance of belonging, you will never be able to take any creative risks whatsoever. Without it, you will never push yourself out of the suffocating insulation of personal safety and into the frontiers of the beautiful and unexpected”.

Defining yourself

Part of embracing a creative life is to define yourself and adopt the mindset that you are entitled to your creativity. This approach says that you are willing and capable participant in your craft, whether that be writing, singing, dancing, drawing, flower arranging, or any other form of creative expression. Defining yourself can help you overcome fears and the need for outward acceptance of your creative ideas. But you must do this on an ongoing basis, it doesn’t work if you just say it once and expect your life to magically change–you must assert your creative self every day.



Big Strong Magic

One of the things that Robin mentions is Elizabeth’s podcast called “Magic Lessons”, a series of podcasts that complement her book. Below is episode 12, a conversation with Brene Brown on “Big Strong Magic”. This powerful episode discusses the role that shame plays in stifling our innate creativity. As Brene says in the podcast “Creativity is our soul work“.

Magic Lessons Podcast

Questions to consider

  1. Who, in your heart of hearts, are you? Who have you always secretly wanted to be? Write it down and then take turns saying it!
  2. How did you feel? Did saying it out loud change anything for you?
  3. Does getting an art degree give you “permission” to be an artist? Do you even need to go to college to become a writer, a painter, or an actor?

Join the discussion in the Cafe Book Club forum!

1 Comment

  1. Amy Frost
    Nov 16, 2015

    So loved listening to the pod cast!!! It is informative… fun…and really feels like a book club that has it’s act together… love what you put on the site to frame it!!! Love those questions!!!!

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!