updated 08/13/2010 AT 9:40 AM ET
•originally published 08/13/2010 AT 11:00 AM ET
In the new movie Eat Pray Love, Julia Roberts steals the scene as Liz Gilbert, a globetrotting, hopeless romantic who takes off for Italy, India and Indonesia to find herself. But the character of Gilbert wasn’t a composite imagined in Hollywood – you just can’t conjure all that carb consumption.
Before you catch the chick flick, meet the real Elizabeth Gilbert, who penned the 2006 bestselling memoir based on her own soul-searching journey.
1. She’s Self-Taught
Although she took a few writing classes while attending New York University, Gilbert didn’t make her magic happen in a classroom. The author opted to create her own post-graduate writing program. The curriculum? Years of traveling (the country and the world), odds-and-ends jobs (from restaurants to ranches) – and lots of eavesdropping (for inspiration, natch).