Magic Lessons Podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert
When I write blog posts about a podcast, my goal is to give a general overview of the podcast with a focus on one episode. For this post though, I am breaking my own rules because the whole season was so good.
“What are Magic Lessons? They are road maps for the path to creativity, the extra nudge we need when we are feeling stuck in our creative lives.”
The Magic Lesson’s podcast is based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book called Big Magic. It’s inspiring and you should read it. I also own it on Audible and it is a great listen (much like Eat, Pray, Love.) I’ll blog about both in future posts. (Click on the books in the list to add them to your goodreads list.)
In each segment of the podcast she talks to a real person about real problems they are facing in their creative lives. She gives them assignments to help them move to the next stage. Then, on the next episode, Elizabeth calls a knowledgeable friend (always someone famous and always someone awesome) and gets another perspective on the situation.
Here is a brief description of each episode:
- In season #1 episode #1 she talks to a blogger named Erin who is a stay-at-home mother who struggles with guilt in a variety of ways and is working on writing a memoir. Liz offers her encouragement and addresses her guilt issues and has a great conversation about fear. Liz suggests to Erin that she should “Do everything else in your life a little worse for a while.”
- In episode #2, Elizabeth calls her friend Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild and the Dear Sugar podcast. Cheryl offers great advice to all moms and anybody struggling with telling their truth. She examines the struggle of writing about family with the potential for angry or hurt feelings. I read Wild with my book group and we enjoyed it. It’s one those books that you get sucked into and it’s hard to put down.
- In episode #3, Elizabeth talks to a call-center employee named Missy who has a very boring job. She loves to read and literally dreams about writing. Elizabeth encourages her to follow her dream and to write outside of her day job. Liz says “Any talent that we have that we don’t use becomes a burden.” She also encourages her to find a writing group to be her tribe.
- In episode #4 Rob Bell gives his take on despair and paying attention to the now, and how everything is always changing. He also talks about getting good material for your writing even from less than ideal situations.
- In episode #5 Elizabeth talks to a singer/songwriter named Melissa who is grieving the loss of her young sister and is very concerned it’s taking too long to get her songs written. Elizabeth shares her take on the situation and on being a late bloomer and offers some advice.
- In episode #6 Liz talks to author Ann Patchett, who offers different advice. Two things really stuck out for me in this particular conversation. One was Ann saying “Don’t let not writing songs be one more thing in your life to feel bad about.” The other thing was that when you are in the creative process, writing about painful things, no decisions should be made about what to share with the world. That decision should come much later in the process. Ann has written many great books, both memoirs and fiction. See her webpage for the list. The following two are my favorites so far:
- In episode #7 Liz talks to Betsy, an art teacher and grandmother who wonders if her creativity is all used up. Elizabeth offers a unique perspective and advice on how she can fill up her bucket of creative paint again.
- In episode #8 Liz talks to Rayya Elias about Betsy and about being creative for the pure pleasure of it. She says that you don’t have to share your art with the whole world and also that sometimes you need to try something new. Sometimes in the process you might have to make bad art to get good again.
- In episode #9 Elizabeth talks to a photographer, Casey who would like to turn her photography into a podcast with a visual component but she is not sure if that is a good idea or if she should be changing her form of art. Liz gives her a couple of really cool assignments including to write a letter to and from fear and creativity.
- In episode #10 John Hodgman, author and podcaster of the Judge John Hodgman podcast, talks about Casey and his own experience of finding a passion, mastering it, then moving on to the next creative endeavor. He also gives great tips on starting a podcast.
- Episode #11 is the big check-in episode where Liz checks in with each of the guests to see how they are doing.
- In the final episode, #12 Liz has a great one-on-one conversation with the author of Rising Strong and Daring Greatly Brené Brown. Brené and Elizabeth talk about creativity, shame, fear and self-forgiveness. I really love how they talk honestly about inspiration and what inspiration “owes us.” They warn that you just might fail in your creative endeavor. In fact you’re probably going to fail at least a few times but it can definitely be worth the journey. So far, I’ve read Rising Strong and I got a lot out of it. I plan on reading it again to do a future blog post. I also recommend Brené’s TED Talks which I will be featuring as well.
This podcast taught me so much, how to be a better writer, how to push past the fear, and it gave me so many wonderful resources to learn more. The guests were great and courageously stepped up and I admire them for taking this on. They were moved by the experience and you can tell how grateful they all felt. I got goosebumps and had “aha” moments numerous times. Elizabeth Gilbert is passionate about her craft and is compassionate and honest with a generous spirit. She is knowledgeable about writing and has the perfect quote for every topic. I listened to the whole season twice. The first time I just listened and allowed myself to be moved. The second time, I furiously took notes. I didn’t even know what I was taking notes for but I knew I had to write all this good stuff down. Little did I know at the time that I would use it all for a new blog I’d be starting.
Season 2 of Magic Lessons is also available and though the setup is a little bit different (each episode has all three pieces, the talk with a real person, the interview with one of her friends who offers a second opinion, and the check-in). Let me assure you it is just as good as the first season and I will be blogging about those in future posts. This podcast has given me so much material!
You can find Magic Lessons on iTunes or Google Play. Check out the Google Play Podcast page on this blog for specific directions on how to access this blog on Google Play. Be aware that this podcast isn’t censored and there is adult language.
I would love to talk about these episodes with other people. If anybody is interested, let me know. I’ll set up a group on Facebook.
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On Monday, watch for a look at one of my favorite songs by an old favorite singer/songwriter. Until then, I hope your days are magical and filled with creativity!