#7 — It drives us to find a better way

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Failure hurts. But if we are to have any chance of achieving our goals or deeply-held desires, we must be open to it.

Here are 13 reasons why failure doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

1. It allows us to learn.

2. It is better to try and fail (and learn) then never give it a go.

3. We won’t get better if we are not prepared to fail.

4. It keeps us humble.

5. Each iteration of failure (or rejection) brings us closer to something that might work.

6. It tests whether we are really serious about our…


You’ve created value in the past and you will do it again in the future

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Hustle, hustle, hustle. Make use of every spare minute. Have your laptop on the kitchen counter so you can type a sentence or two in between making lunch and attending to the baby.

This is all incredibly admirable. I’m in awe of mothers who manage to write in these circumstances. But what happens when your brain can’t handle any more activity being crammed into the narrow windows of time?

What happens when you glaze over researching yet another podcast to see if it’s suitable for book marketing?

What happens when you sit and stare at your computer screen so mentally…


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When I was a life-coach a common question I used to ask was — “What would you do if it was guaranteed that you couldn’t fail?”

This is a freeing question which allows people to brainstorm possibilities without having to commit themselves to potentially difficult consequences. It teases out of them what they really want to do with their life.

Many people refrain from working towards their deepest held dreams and goals because they are afraid of failure. …


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I moved out of London ten years ago but, as I hate commuting, I used to stay in a budget hotel near Waterloo three or four times a month.

It was my perk. I kept part of London life, saw my friends and had an easy journey to work, rather than a 90 minute each way commute.

Time ticked by and my routine had gone on for nine years.

On Monday 9th March 2020 I went to the Self-Publishing Formula conference on the Southbank and had booked my usual room for that evening. …


I can heartily recommend re-reading a favourite book on creativity and talking about each chapter with a friend, on camera.

We are now on our last episode of Unlocking Big Magic where Lesley and I review our top takeaways from the series. If you’ve missed any of the previous episodes, don’t worry. This where we recap our favourite and most powerful parts of the book.

I talk about my favourite sentence — Fear is a desolate boneyard where dreams go to desiccate in the hot sun.

And we also return to the chapter where Liz Gilbert says how normal it…


Then this episode is for you.

This week in Unlocking Big Magic we talk about the Persistence chapter. This is my favourite chapter because it talks about all the struggles we have finding time to write, alongside all the other things life demands of us. This is not just a modern phenomena — apparently Herman Melville wrote to his friend about that exact same problem.

So often we wish that we didn’t have to work and earn money. Maybe we wish that there was someone who would take care of all of that for us so we can sit at ease in our studios and create…


Having enough time is a subset of having enough energy. For many years I bemoaned lack of time as I set about writing alongside a day job and marketing that writing. Recently I have realised that lack of time is not the main driver — it is lack of energy.

My day job as a software consultant requires a lot of mental energy to create and test solutions, often with time pressure and competing priorities. My aging parents have required more of my practical support and their plight can be emotionally draining. A determination to keep writing, no matter what, also requires mental fortitude.

Recently I ran out of mental juice and have had to take a break from everything. As I dip my toe back in the creative waters it is important that I find ways to replenish that mental well.

How do you support and manage your energy?


If you are always making excuses as to why you can’t, or shouldn’t, get on with your creative practice then the Permission chapter of Big Magic is for you.

It’s packed with stories and information that will dismantle each of your excuses and leave you free to get on with the work. But if you want to keep being stuck with those excuses, then you’d better close this web window down immediately.

This episode is for you if:

  • You think there’s no point doing your thing because other people have already “done that”
  • You think you need someone else’s permission…

In this week’s episode of Unlocking Big Magic, Lesley and I talk about the Enchantment chapter of the book, Big Magic. This chapter is about ideas: where they might come from, what happens if you act on them and what happens if you don’t.

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about the indescribable magic of creativity. Some of the stories and examples are a bit ‘woo’ and having experienced some of what she describes, I totally buy into it.

We cover the following topics:

  • How to create a partnership with an idea and not be its slave or master
  • How to let go…

I have recently recorded a series of conversations on the fabulous creativity book by Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic.

Published in 2015 this book soon became a creativity “bible” for me. Even if you are not a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert’s other books (such as Eat Pray Love) I still heartily recommend reading Big Magic. I promise you it will address all the hang-ups and barriers you might have around your creative process and dreams.

In this series of conversations, I’m chatting with Lesley Pyne, author of Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness. There are six chapters in the book with the following…

Cali Bird

Realistic advice on being creative alongside your busy life. www.gentlecreative.com. I write novels too. Need romantic escapism? Check out www.calibird.com

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