Elizabeth Gilbert, Your Genius, and Your Muse

A Interesting Take on Genius and the Writing Muse

I highly recommend this TEDTalk by Elizabeth Gilbert for writers who are serious about the craft and having difficulty increasing productivity during writing sessions (or creating time to write, period). And for moms who want to nurture the best in their children and themselves.

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My genius

I’ve been working on some authorpreneurial ideas for a few years and this talk really spoke to me, because it allows me to elucidate a skill I’ve recently recognized in myself — recognizing the genius in others.

I like the idea that genius is something outside of us, to be caught as it comes thundering, or whispering…or whining… by. Something we have to be open to receive. Something that we can dismiss one too many times and then find it doesn’t come by as reliably as we’d like. That mirrors my experience.

Genius is All Around Us

I’ve noticed, in other people, that they just seem apt at capturing something — or the nexus of somethings — other people are not. I see it everywhere. Once, a decade ago, I noticed that the crossing guard at my children’s school was a genius at communicating with cars. She directed traffic into and out of the entrance to school like a master conductor. I never wondered if she wanted me to stop, or to turn, or to scoot through so she could stop the car behind me.

I didn’t notice her particular genius, though, until she had a substitute who was not a genius at communicating with cars. He tried, but he wielded his stop sign with clumsy arm movements that left me wondering if he wanted me to stop or go — or if he was waving away a pesky fly.

I was glad when the crossing guard genius came back from vacation. Having noticed her genius, I watched to see what it was she did that made everything so easy to understand. I didn’t understand that I was opening myself to my own particular genius by studying her practicing her genius.

I was sad when she retired. There have been competent crossing guards in her wake, but so far, not one with her particular genius at the job.

Being able to see the genius at work in others played out often when I was raising my children. My daughter is a genius at people. One of my sons at video games and all things computer. My youngest at finding lost things (the intersection of the power of observation and long term memory).

I love to notice — and nurture, if I can, — genius.

I also love to give each of my characters their own little genius to guide them — or for them to ignore. My mystery shopping mom Molly has a genius for juggling work around family. She doesn’t always listen to it, though.

What’s Your Genius?

What are you good at? Are you comfortable calling it a genius? I’d love to discuss it further with you in the comments section.