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Human Potential in the Age of Exponential Tech

Ted Tuesday: Elizabeth Gilbert on Genius

Where did January go? Last time I checked it I still had a few days left, lol, next thing I know it’s the second week of February! I’ve just come back from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It was a truly remarkable experience to be able to see some of the brightest people get together and exchange ideas.

I’m finally back in Toronto and really diving head-first into my writing. I was inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk on Genius and the anguish that is normally associated with the creative process. Gilbert’s last work, “Eat, Pray, Love” was an international best-seller and she is now struggling with her next novel, wondering how she can top her last success and fearing that her biggest accomplishment might now be behind her. Her fear around creativity definitely resonates with me, as I muck through my own writing processes.

Why You Should Watch :

Elizabeth Gilbert faced down a ­pre-midlife crisis by doing what we all secretly dream of – running off for a year. Her travels through Italy, India and Indonesia resulted in the megabestselling and deeply beloved memoir Eat, Pray, Love, about her process of finding herself by leaving home.

She’s a longtime magazine writer – covering music and politics for Spin and GQ – as well as a novelist and short-story writer. Her books include the story collection Pilgrims, the novel Stern Men (about lobster fishermen in Maine) and a biography of the woodsman Eustace Conway, called The Last American Man. Her work has been the basis for one movie so far (Coyote Ugly, based on her own memoir, in this magazine article, of working at the famously raunchy bar), and now it looks as if Eat, Pray, Love is on the same track, with the part of Gilbert reportedly to be played by Julia Roberts. Not bad for a year off.

My Favorite Parts and Thoughts, after the jump!

My Favorite Part:

“Excuse me, can’t you see that I’m driving here?” Ha, I’m going to do that next time I get inspiration and I can’t stop and fully embrace it.

My Take:

I think what I loved the most about this talk was how she described her own writing process: messy, hard work. It doesn’t always look pretty or feel good, but you do your part and you show up and trust in the universe to take care of the rest. My writing teacher once said to me that it’s astounding how musicians and artists spend years studying theory and techniques and we expect writers to sit at a keyboard and have the perfect sentence just flow right out of us. I’ve had a tumultuous and stormy relationship with writing for as long as a remember, and can definitely understand the darkness that can plague some writers – I have SO been there.

What do you think?

Comments: 2

  • Eva Szymanski

    February 11, 2009
    reply

    Inspiring and encouraging – biggest takeaway – just because it doesn’t feel good – don’t stop!
    I agree completely.

  • Riwa

    February 18, 2009
    reply

    I loved this.
    And you.

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