Gilbert's use of the word creative is very broad and includes activities from writing to dance to painting to music and everything in between. And though she didn't specifically define the word, it also probably includes plenty of activities in addition to those.
One of Gilbert's most interesting theories is this, in her own words:
I believe that our planet is inhabited . . . by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us--albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.She believes that ideas are always searching for and trying to get the attention of someone to work with. If they cannot, they will search for someone who is more receptive. I'm not sure why but this was a very freeing concept for me. I could imagine saying to some ideas, "You're a great little (or big) idea but someone else will be able to work with you better than me" and to others, "Oh, I'm going to write you down so I don't forget you." There should be no guilt in not accepting an idea and moving forward with it. Gilbert has a lot to say about ideas and how they get our attention, how we work with them, and what causes ideas to be lost to us, even after we've begun working with one.
Some other thoughts I garnered from the book:
- Authenticity is more important than originality. If an idea is completed with authenticity it will seem original.
- Complaining will scare away inspiration and creativity. Don't complain about how difficult it is to be creative but, instead, enjoy your creativity and delight in the work. Inspiration will be close.
- Forget perfection because it's unattainable. It prevents people from finishing their work and sometimes from beginning. It sometimes disguises itself as a virtue.
- Completing is an achievement. (Most people don't finish what they start.)
- She recommends that we get over our insecurities and self-focus. She says most people aren't thinking about you, anyway. They're thinking about their own lives and work.
- Don't quit too soon. Maintain a perspective that both challenges and failures are interesting. “Don’t let go of your courage the moment things stop being easy or rewarding. Because that moment? That’s the moment when interesting begins.”
The message I came away with was to engage whole-heartedly and joyfully with inspiration and creativity. A failure is just another learning experience.
If you read the book I hope you'll let me know what you think.