Her Guide To Life

An Unofficial Guide to Staying Sane(ish) in your 20s

Thursday, 5 January 2017

The Elizabeth Gilbert Quote That Changed My 2016


Okay, I'm going to start this post by saying, I have mixed feelings about Elizabeth Gilbert. Yes, I've read Eat, Pray, Love, and yes, I did enjoy it (and then watched the film pretty much immediately after), and no, I don't think she's an idiot for ditching her international husband and getting involved in a same-sex relationship with her best friend. Why, do you? In that case, you probably shouldn't be here, reading this post.


Anyway, despite my mixed feelings about Elizabeth Gilbert, after reading Eat, Pray, Love and listening to her on Emma Gannon's podcast, Ctrl, Alt, Delete, when the photos starting appearing on Twitter and Instagram of her NEW book, Big Magic, I kind of felt like I had to read it. I resisted for WEEKS, and then a friend said she had a spare copy that she'd put in the post to me. For free.

Pals, I don't say no to free books. Ever.

So a few days later, I received the book, took my contacts out, made some hot chocolate, retired to my bed and started to read. This is not going to be a review of Big Magic, because a lot of fab people have already done reviews and I think altogether, they've covered most of what I would say. So no, I'm not going to review this book, but I AM going to focus on one single sentence, about three-quarters of the way through.

One sentence, of just five simple words, that I didn't immediately understand. It just was so adverse to what we'd all been told in school, and told growing up, and I think that it's really, really important that we change this way of thinking. This is the quote that I'm coming into 2017 with, and which I want to keep close through the whole year:

Picture credit: Her Guide To Life
Done is better than good. 

Done is better than good. Right? It's not super clear immediately. But what I think this quote means is this: don't be scared to do things for fear of failure. Don't be a writer who doesn't write, because they're scared. You could be a much-better writer than the person sat next to you, but if the person sat next to you write an entire 200 page novel and all that you have in front of you is a blank page, who's more likely to get a book deal?

Picture credit: Waterstones
Perfectionism is a weird thing. It's seen in society as almost like a badge of honour - that you have such IMPOSSIBLY high standards for yourself that you just canot bear to do a job half-heartedly. In reality, I think that's crap. Perfectionism is just another word for fear. Fear to put pen to paper, in case what comes out doesn't match up to what you were sure you could achieve.

It's so, so easy to put off a project for fear of it not turning out the way you want it to. But what good is that? Even if it comes out awfully, hey - you MADE something. Something is now in the world that would not be there if you hadn't sat down and executed a plan. That's so cool!

Do the thing. Just do it. Even if it's crap. ESPECIALLY if it's crap. Just because something that you've been sitting on (a poem, a video, an attempt to make a vegan homecooked meal that doesn't taste like you're trying to chew through the Argos catalogue) is balls right now, doesn't mean that you can't make it un-ballish later. You just can't do something perfectly the first time. It's impossible (unless you're Zadie Smith, who literally bangs out one version of a novel, and it's always an absolute cracker).

Do the thing, guys.

So, that is what I'm basing 2017 around. Doing the thing. Not thinking about it. Not talking about it. Not Tweeting about it. DOING it. Putting pen to paper, my nose to the grind (ouch), and getting shit done. Here's to a productive, active, brave, FEARLESS 2017.

Hannah x

Feature image © Hannah Billie Perry

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2 comments

  1. Omg 'Done is better than good' is literally my mantra for this year! There's so many big things I want to do and achieve, but my fear of not being good enough or not being perfect always stops me following through. Which is ridiculous because then I'll never get anyway. So I'm trying to just force myself to do big scary things, because I can only improve, and eventually I'll get where I want to be!

    Liv // petticoatsandpatriarchy.com

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  2. This message is so important and I'm going to try and remember it as much as I can. I've seen so many glowing reviews of Big Magic and I watched Elizabeth Gilbert's Ted Talk and found it fascinating, so I can't wait to read this book!

    Jemima x
    anotherrantingreader.blogspot.co.uk

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