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A World Inhabited by Ideas

bigmagic_bookI am nearly finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.”

While reading “Big Magic,” I have learned all of the following:

  • It is normal (like, on a biological as well as an emotional and social level) to feel fear before, during and after creating.
  • It is more important to see an idea through than to see it through perfectly.
  • Curiosity trumps passion….every time.
  • We are all creative – whether we think we are (or others think we are) or not.

But by far the most intriguing thing I have learned is this – ideas are alive.

From the chapter called “How Ideas Work:”

I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also 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. 


So if I don’t opt in, these poor idea-beings will spend their whole disembodied lives attempting to change my mind? 

In the past, I’ve worried about hungry children and homeless adults and abandoned pets and the thinning ozone layer.

Now I am also worried about ideas that can’t find a partner.

And just like I can’t feed all the children or build homes for all the adults or rescue all the pets or repopulate the ozone in our atmosphere, I certainly cannot in any way, shape, or form (especially if there is math or cooking involved) partner with all the ideas that need a partner.

Luckily (at least to hear Gilbert tell it), ideas are pretty persistent in their choice of particular collaborators, and even if their collaborator-of-choice is quite dense and unobservant, they don’t tend to give up easily.

But this too is significant – because what if a particular idea chooses me, or you, and it is just the most perfect idea, and we would be so happy collaborating together, but we miss out because we don’t notice the idea trying to get our attention.

That would suck.

In these cases, the idea may keep trying for awhile – so you or I may get more than one chance to say yes.

But we still need to do our best to make some regular time to tune in and just see if an idea is trying to get our attention.

TouchofGraceBookThe very first book I ever read that really talked about this concept – although the author used the word “grace” instead of “creativity” – was Cheryl Richardson’s book, “The Unmistakable Touch of Grace.”

I still have that book.

It is so full of amazing stories about how grace or creativity or whatever you want to call it works to get our attention, and it has always inspired me to reach beyond my conscious mind for insight and guidance.

But now I feel like I understand even better what is going on.

All these signposts, hints, “aha moments,” are simply ideas/creativity/grace/life, trying to let us know we are not alone, we are not forgotten, we have help and friendship and mentoring along the way whenever we need it – all we have to do is pay attention.

They also want us to know we are creative and worthy and intelligent and courageous – so much so that they have chosen US as their partner to bring something new and beautiful into this world.


Today’s Takeaway: Do you think of yourself as a “creative person?” (For the record, I have always hated these labels – creative or not creative – but they are still pretty persistent, so there we have it). If so, why do you think of yourself as creative? If you don’t think you are creative, what is your reason? Does any part of you resonate with Gilbert’s assertion that ideas are living beings that want and need to collaborate with us in bringing creativity into this world?


A World Inhabited by Ideas

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2016). A World Inhabited by Ideas. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 3 Jan 2016
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