Elizabeth Gilbert, author and novelist best known for her 2006 memoir ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, presents ‘Your Elusive Creative Genius’ as a TED Talk set to inspire and help creative people continue on with their work past anxieties, worries and stresses.
Gilbert’s work Eat, Pray, Love spent 199 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List and saw her listed as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People. This huge success was career-defining and despite Gilbert admitting that writing was her lifelong fascination and love, left her with the need to recalibrate her relationship with her work.
Following this vast success, she found that people began to have a fear-based reaction toward her and compared this to the reactions received when she initially told people that she wanted to be a writer. Rather than encouraging and nurturing her dreams, it seems that others reacted with worry; horror stories, concerns of no further success and negatives. When asked, the answer of “aren’t you afraid?” was “of course!”: but are these fears rational? It seems to be assumed that those with creative minds or careers suffer, or will suffer, from mental and emotional torment.
Gilbert presents the fact that she’s not comfortable with the construct that artistry and anguish are inherently linked; and indeed it can be dangerous. In the position her career has taken her, it is likely that she has already had her greatest career success, and everything that comes now will be unfavourably compared to it.
In order to combat this, Gilbert has come up with a coping mechanism influenced by two fellow artists (the poet Ruth Stone and musician Tom Waits), and the culture of Ancient Rome. Creating a protective psychological construct whereby the creative aspect of her personality is loaned to her by a divine intervention, she is able to alleviate the undue pressure and blame from herself on her talents. Explaining fully historical attitudes toward creatives and the divine, as well as tangible examples from her colleagues, Gilbert is able to put together a theory to help creative minds thrive and continue to work no matter the pressures.
Regardless of your career, focus or path, one thing to take away from this TED Talk is to stay stubborn, and show up. Apply this to anything and you will achieve.