inspiration: elizabeth gilbert on creativity

WHEN ‘PARADE’ MAGAZINE ASKED JULIA ROBERTS what she’d do with a year off, she said the equivalent of “stay home.” Me, too. I nevertheless greatly admire and even identify with the work of world-traveling Elizabeth Gilbert of “Eat, Pray, Love” fame (although the book of hers I have loved best so far is “The Last American Man,” if you have not read it). I just don’t want any airline tickets, you know? My appreciation of Gilbert’s work was affirmed in 2009 when I first heard her TED Conference talk, on nurturing creativity. Truer words were never spoken, and then some. I thought everybody had seen this video, but the other night at a holiday dinner, I mentioned I’d re-watched it as part of kicking off the New Year–and a new book I’m starting–right…and got some blank looks.

By the way, you’ll notice that my slowly emerging blogroll here on “the book website” includes Gilbert’s talk, plus other links to the rich, must-visit TED archive of talks. And many things non-TED, of course–but that archive is a favorite haunt for me when I am “stuck” or need invigoration. What’s yours?

(Learn more about the non-profit TED–“riveting talks by remarkable people free to the world”–and its conferences and video archives on the TED site.)

  1. Joan says:

    Margaret what is TED?
    I’ve ordered your new book and can’t wait to read it. You should come over to VT to read from it. No need for airline tickets.

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Joan. Happy to drive to Vermont. What general vicinity are *you* in? TED calls itself “riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world,” and it’s a nonprofit entity that puts on a major annual event plus there are satellite events worldwide. You can start reading about TED here. I’ve been following it from the start since my former boos and old friend, Martha Stewart, always looked forward to attending and turned me onto its richness of exciting ideas. Take some time, using the left-hand navigation list on their site, and dig into topics you are interested in. But watch out: It’s addictive! (But very healthy, especially for the mind.)

  2. Barbara H. says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! What a magnificent, inspiring, rational yet magical talk. I am so, so thankful I watched it.

  3. MulchMaid says:

    What an amazing and inspiring talk! I must be the only woman over the age of sixteen that hasn’t read (or seen) Eat Pray Love. I read a lot, but was turned off by the public attention to the book, then film. I need to reconsider my aversion after hearing Elizabeth Gilbert’s wise words. This is a woman who has something to say!

    1. Margaret says:

      So glad to show it to you, MulchMaid. I had been a longtime reader of Gilbert’s work, and read “Eat, Pray, Love” before all the frenzy (otherwise I understand what you mean; might have skipped it). She wrote masterful magazine pieces and as I say, I *loved* “The Last American Man.” You will enjoy getting to know her better, and yes, she has something to say. (And PS, I hated the movie; forced myself to see it just recently on cable, but not even 1 percent of the impact of the book.)

  4. Suzanne shaffer says:

    Margaret, thanks so much for the link to TED and all the other referrals that you’ve provided in the past….isn’t it fascinating all that is at our fingertips….as I sit home recovering from knee replacement watching the winter wonderland out my window I am so pleased to have found your blog so many months ago…..everyday becomes a sharing of thoughts and ideas…..much appreciated

    1. Margaret says:

      @Joseph: Ze Frank is indeed something; not sure I have seen the video, though, so thank you — off to watch. See you soon!

  5. Johanna says:

    MulchMaid — I, too, have not read the book! I have a sort of great admiration for Gilbert, and a great dislike for the hype. I’d heard this talk before and I think I’d enjoy having dinner with her to talk about creativity — she does seem to have both feet on the ground!

  6. Judit says:

    Little she realises that by coming up with such an inspirational and sober speech about the trials and tribulations of creativity is in itself the bettering of her previous work!!! Thank you Margaret for the link and thank YOU for your continued inspiration about all things colourful that grow in our earthly soil and walk on it too (four legged ones included)!!! My little purring gardening companion is called Mr Bojangles and being true to his name – he can jump high! A way to jump, a way to garden! Thank you!


  7. Priscilla says:

    Wow, great to see and hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak. I just finished reading her follow-up book, Committed, a few days ago. There is much food for thought in this talk and in the book which I highly recommend. I particularly like the genius/genie and Allah/ole references. For those like me who create, this look at artistry gives a valuable safety net and a feeling of “I’m not alone.”

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Priscilla. I read “Committed” when it came out and thought that many reviewers were unnecessarily harsh. Happily, she had enjoyed the great success she deserves for both books. See you soon again, I hope.

  8. Just listened to this for the second time, while doing the dishes, cleaning the kitchen, gathering my own courage to keep dancing, keep showing up. Inspirational for sure. Thanks for bringing it back around!

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