Elizabeth Gilbert’s Amazing Creative Toolkit: Saying No, Trusting Intuition, Seeking Awe, Bathing in Grief, and Index Cards (#430)

“We live in a culture that says you should be able to power through anything. Life will very generously remind you that you cannot, and it will very generously break you at times and very generously show you.”  — Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert (@GilbertLiz) is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Magic and Eat, Pray, Love, as well as several other internationally bestselling books. She has been a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her latest novel, City of Girls, was named an instant New York Times Best Seller and is a rollicking, sexy tale of the New York City theater world during the 1940s.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

This podcast is brought to you by Thrive Market and Athletic Greens. More on both below. 

#430: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Amazing Creative Toolkit: Saying No, Trusting Intuition, Seeking Awe, Bathing in Grief, and Index Cards


This episode is brought to you by Thrive Marketwhich saves me a ton of money and is perfect for these crazy times. Thrive Market is a membership-based site on a mission to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone. You can find all types of food, supplements, nontoxic home products, clean wine, dog food—just about anything. Members earn wholesale prices every day and save an average of $30 on each order. I personally saved $39 on my most recent order. 

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This podcast is also brought to you by Athletic Greens.  I get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is usually Athletic Greens, my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body in 2010 and did not get paid to do so. I do my best with nutrient-dense meals, of course, but AG further covers my bases with vitamins, minerals, and whole-food-sourced micronutrients that support gut health and the immune system. 

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear an episode with another author who fearlessly follows her own path? Listen to my conversation with Cheryl Strayed in which we discuss books as religion, writing prompts and processes, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and much more.

#231: Cheryl Strayed — How to Be Creative Like a Motherf*cker



  • Connect with Elizabeth Gilbert:

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Note from the editor: Timestamps will be added shortly. 

  • Elizabeth shares who Rayya Elias was and how she’s remembered her in story at The Moth.
  • The truth has legs.
  • What did Elizabeth learn about her own grieving process through this experience?
  • Why finding humor in the most difficult of times is crucial if we want to make it through “earth school.”
  • How did Elizabeth come to know writing as her “source of light?”
  • What kind of stories and storytellers make Elizabeth break out in applause?
  • Seeking the edges of human imagination, using the word “interesting” to defuse drama and trauma, and counteracting co-dependence with sappy love songs.
  • When working on a new project, what method of organizing and planning does she use — as learned from her ninth-grade teacher Mr. Kisco? How did it come in handy when doing research for City Of Girls, her latest book?
  • The things present Liz endures for future Liz.
  • What percentage of Liz’s research makes it into the final draft of a book? Does she feel what’s left over is a waste?
  • What does Elizabeth take from the lessons of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations?
  • What has Elizabeth learned from Martha Beck?
  • On staying true to one’s inner compass before making commitments, and how Elizabeth phrases her “No” answers without remorse.
  • The power of the simple no and other lessons learned from Byron Katie — or how to say no to even the most persistent and avoid negotiation when your inner compass tells you it’s the right thing to do.
  • Elizabeth’s perspective on psychedelics, and words of caution for anyone hoping to use them as a quick and easy fix to complex problems.
  • Using The Artist’s Way to recover your creativity from its trauma.
  • Elizabeth shares an example of how she made an artist’s date.
  • How closely did the book proposal for Eat, Pray, Love match the ultimate book, and were there other titles Elizabeth considered?
  • Elizabeth’s take on City of Girls as a rebuttal to the cautionary tale (usually written by a man) of the woman who lives a free and open sexual life and suffers terrible consequences as a result.
  • Are there any aspects or portions of anything Elizabeth has written that she wishes more people would notice more often?
  • Parting thoughts.