Liz Gilbert: On Creativity and Fear

Last Saturday night I watched the ever-inspiring Liz Gilbert talk about creativity and fear. As part of the Perth Writers Festival, Gilbert spoke to a practically full house at the Perth Concert Hall – which was a testament to either how many people are interested in creativity, or how popular an author becomes once their book is turned into a movie. Hopefully it was a bit of both.

One thing to note about Gilbert is that, as well as being an acclaimed writer, she is a great public speaker. Granted, her success comes from story telling and this was not her first public talk (with two TED Talks to her name, among others), but the woman knows how to engage an audience. She knows how to give anecdotal advice. Her advice is the kind people seek out, rather than the annoying kind your great aunt gives you about how it’s time to settle down and find a man.

Gilbert spoke about how we shouldn’t strive to be fearless, for that is living without any sense of fear. And, let’s be honest – everyone is afraid. Afraid of not being good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, whatever enough. Instead, Gilbert’s advice is to acknowledge this fear, accept that it’s part of the journey but that it has to sit in the back seat; it can’t give directions, it can’t change the music and it certainly doesn’t get to drive.

Something else that came out of this talk was the idea that “done is better than good”. This one little line made me want to spring into action and just get on with everything. It also brought up two important issues; perfectionism and entitlement.

Gilbert’s idea that ‘perfectionism is just fear pretending to be fancy’ struck a chord. How many times has someone created something but never shown it to the world, for fear that it isn’t 100% perfect? How many people don’t even begin because they are convinced they won’t be good enough? We hide behind perfectionism when, in reality, we are just scared. We also often feel like we don’t deserve whatever we’re chasing (women especially). We lack any sense of entitlement. Entitlement doesn’t need to be arrogant; it is just the belief that you deserve to have what you want, and not to feel guilty for going after it.

I’ve just realised this blog, that was meant to be a review, has basically become a re-hash of what I heard. However, it was just so damn on point, interesting and important that I want to tell everyone about it. And isn’t that the sign of a good talk? One where you leave wanting to go forth and spread that same message far and wide?

Liz Gilbert’s talk resonated to the writer in me but it was also very relevant to everyday life. After all, it’s not just creatives who struggle with fear – we all do. The idea of over-coming that fear by acknowledging it, letting it be there but not in control and ultimately, just finishing what you started because while it may not be great, it will be good enough – these are ideas I hope to take with me and put into practice in all my future endeavours. It’s safe to say Liz got me thinking in all the right ways.


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