30+ Quotes About Creativity to Inspire Your Process
No matter how you express your creativity, these quotes from celebrated authors, poets, and innovators are sure to bolster your confidence and spark breakthrough ideas.
November 20, 2020
No matter what field you’re in—be it art, writing, science, tech, or sales—coming up with creative ideas can be extremely frustrating, if not terrifying. But here’s the reassuring truth: every single creative in the history of the world has struggled with the same frustrations and fears. Fortunately, many have documented their experiences, leaving us the words we need to hear when we really feel stuck. We’ve compiled this handy list of creativity quotes from people in all different fields to help guide and inspire you—no matter where you are in the creative process.
Quotes for Finding Creative Inspiration
Need a little jumpstart to get the creative juices flowing? These words from famous creatives just might help.
1. “Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” —Rumi, The Essential Rumi
2. “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” —Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
3. “If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.” —Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
4. "To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down." —Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run with the Wolves
5. “The road to creativity passes so close to the madhouse and often detours or ends there.” —Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death
6. "Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit." —John Steinbeck, East of Eden
7. “What keeps life fascinating is the constant creativity of the soul.” —Deepak Chopra, Life After Death
8. "That’s what makes a god—or a mother. There’s nothing more intoxicating than creating something from nothing. Creating something from yourself.” —Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl
9. “Women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time the very walls are permeated by their creative force, which has, indeed, so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must harness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics.” —Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
10. “Reading, conversation, environment, culture, heroes, mentors, nature—all are lottery tickets for creativity. Scratch away at them and you’ll find out how big a prize you’ve won.” —Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit
11. “One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” —Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
12. “For what matters in life is not whether we receive a round of applause; what matters is whether we have the courage to venture forth despite the uncertainty of acclaim.” —Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow
13. "Nothing is more creative... nor destructive... than a brilliant mind with a purpose." —Dan Brown, Inferno
14. “That's the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you.” —Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing
15. “Despite a lack of natural ability, I did have the one element necessary to all early creativity: naïveté, that fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do.” —Steve Martin, Born Standing Up
16. “People like you must create. If you don't create... you will become a menace to society.” —Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette
17. “The truth is that creative activity is one that involves the entire self—our emotions, our levels of energy, our characters, and our minds.” —Robert Greene, Mastery
18. “Throughout history, people with new ideas—who think differently and try to change things—have always been called troublemakers.” —Richelle Mead, Shadow Kiss
19. "The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will." —Chuck Palahniuk, Diary
20. “Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.” —David Lynch, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity
Quotes about Being Artistically Creative
Transforming a blank canvas or empty page into a work of art—for painters, writers, musicians, choreographers, and poets, that daunting challenge is part of the craft. These quotes on art and creativity can offer some perspective and help refresh your approach to your artistic practice.
21. "The primary math of the real world is one and one equals two. The layman (as, often, do I) swings that every day. He goes to the job, does his work, pays his bills and comes home. One plus one equals two. It keeps the world spinning. But artists, musicians, con men, poets, mystics and such are paid to turn that math on its head, to rub two sticks together and bring forth fire." —Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run
22. "Have pity on those who are fearful of taking up a pen, or a paintbrush, or an instrument, or a tool because they are afraid that someone has already done so better than they could, and who feel themselves to be unworthy to enter the marvelous mansion of art." —Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage
23. "Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow… Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” —Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
24. “Art and love are the same thing: It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.” —Chuck Klosterman, Killing Yourself to Live
25. “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” —Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
26. “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” —C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
27. “Each of us is an artist of our days; the greater our integrity and awareness, the more original and creative our time will become.” —John O'Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us
Quotes on Creativity and Imagination
Although it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of the final product—the hit song, the published book, the gallery-hosted painting—it’s essential to remember the importance of imagination in the creative process. These quotes remind you to cherish the freedom to dream, explore, and take bold leaps without worrying about the end result.
28. "Imagining something is better than remembering something." —John Irving, The World According to Garp
29. “Keep in mind that imagination is at the heart of all innovation. Crush or constrain it and the fun will vanish.” —Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do
30. “But you can go on thinking and imagining forever further and stop at no decisions to pick up a bag for the thinkings. Turn your thinking into your work, your thoughts a book, in sieges.” —Jack Kerouac, On the Road
31. "Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living.” —Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art