Tuesday, August 28, 2012

TED Talk Tuesday: Elizabeth Gilbert on Nurturing Creativity

Welcome back to the blog! I took some time off during the summer. I apologize for anyone who stopped by for any of my regular features.

I'm back, and better for the time away.

I am starting a new blog series. Each week, I will post a TED talk which impacts my writing life, or life, in some way. Some of these, like this week's, will directly discuss writing. Some will get us thinking in other ways.

My hope is that the TED talks will inspire or stretch us in our thinking. My hope is that we will find more things to discuss. My hope is that they will spark us into some difference in our lives or in our writing.

My hope is that we will listen in a meaningful way and not just wait for our turn to talk.

Although, I would love it if you would take a turn to talk. Not everything in the talks will be things we will all agree on. Thank goodness for that! Discussion and differences breed new ideas and perspective.

Wow, I have lots of hopes, don't I?

As President Snow says, hope is the only thing stronger than fear.

And as writers, we tend to feed our fears.

Which brings me to our TED talk for today. In which Elizabeth Gilbert discusses fear, genius, and the importance of just showing up for work.

Can't see the embedded talk? View here.

So, do you believe your genius resides outside yourself? Have you ever had an experience like the poet described? Does this idea of external muse make you feel anxious? Does it make you feel relieved?

I'll get the ball rolling. I like the idea of just showing up. Of getting the work done. Whenever I do that, I see progress.

I also identified with those feelings of fear which Elizabeth describes.

The idea of muse as actual thing outside of us all made me cringe a little, but then I realized that I speak in those terms ALL THE TIME. I call it The Universe. As in, "I need to keep myself open to The Universe." "The Universe has provided the answer/opportunity/experience." It backs on my Faith and belief in miracles, and the idea that things will be provided for us when we need them.

Even in our writing.

What do you think?

OH, and I love her reference to Dobby, the house elf. :)

PS--After I decided to launch this blog series, I opened up this fortune:

See? The Universe is totally on board with the TED talks series. :)


  1. I like showing up. Some days my inspiration, my writing is better than others but i believe that if I show up, eventually my muse will too. So much of is dependent on everything else going on in my life. I didn't watch this one, but I've seen her messages before. :)

  2. I've been getting really into TED talks recently, so this is perfect!

  3. So at first when I kept seeing tweets about TED talks, I kept thinking TED, the talking teddy bear movie...Yep! I'm an educator!

    Great idea to share on the blog. I will have to watch later though!

  4. Laura--I think the just showing up message is a strong one. Nothing great could happen if we don't sit down and try.

    Anna--Can't wait to hear your views on some of these. And, maybe your hubby's too. (Especially next week.) :)

    Kelly--Great to see you. LOL about the Teddy Bear movie. If you do get a chance to watch this one, definitely let us know what you think. I know the first time I saw it, I was a little dismayed that she is putting forth the idea that the best parts of our books--our genius--may not be a part of us at all. But I really like why she is thinking along those lines.

  5. I'm mixed about the video. I feel motivated to 'let go' and let the universe take greater control in my life. But I also feel like I want to own my ideas and actions and not allow myself to believe that I can use a scapegoat when things do not work out.

    I liked Elizabeth's positive take on the subject of muses, though, so I think the TED Talk is effective for that reason.

  6. I like your scapegoat line, J. If we don't take responsibility for the good, the bad, and the ugly in our writing, then what does that do for our growth process? I think it is interesting that she wants there to be a scapegoat so we all don't go insane. Or get a big head. It's a thought provoking talk.

  7. You're right, she never suggests we shuck responsibility for our work. I like any ideas that suggest I remain sane. :P

  8. I think my muse is simply the part of myself that is most closely linked with my creativity. Some days it's easy to tap into that aspect of myself, other days, not so much.

    And I completely agree with that fortune. I've found ideas everywhere, both big ideas and little ideas. The trick is being awake enough to see/hear them :)

  9. Hi Heather! Your new blog series sounds great. I didn't know what a TED talk was until a couple months ago when a writer friend sent me the link to this exact same TED talk. And now you're blogging about it, so how's that for the Universe at work?

    I found the history of the muse super interesting. As far as it being outside of ourselves, not so convinced about that. The story about the poet blew my mind! I found that to be fascinating!

    Looking forward to the other TED talks you'll be featuring.

  10. Jon--I don't know, it seems like she is saying that some of the ownership isn't ours. Taking us off the hook for at least the genius part of things.

    Marcy--Mine is wily too. And some days I avoid some projects if I don't think the muse will show up. But, you know, for my friends working on agent or editor deadlines, they seem to produce worthwhile and exciting things, even on days that they balk at writing. Maybe muse is more myth than we want to believe. :)

    Lynn--Hello! TED talks are awesome. Hopefully we'll hit some you haven't heard yet. :) But I love the reinforcement from the Universe. I'm so dense that the Universe normally has to hit me over the head with stuff before I ever see it. :) I had the same response as you about this talk. And, even though I couldn't get on board with her idea of muse, I loved seeing her viewpoint. I thought her reasons behind her idea to be fascinating! Thanks for stopping by!


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