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12 Great Quotes on Creativity (with a few you haven’t heard)

When I was moving into my fifties, I was consumed by an enormous hunger to express myself creatively. It wasn’t that I hadn’t been creative earlier in my life, but, up until then, creativity had been a byproduct of my work, an interest. Now, it became an intention, almost an obsession. After so many years of working to produce for others, my heart yearned to let my imagination out to play, to work more artfully, and to follow my creative yearnings.

Working on writing the story of this awakening, I inspired myself with quotes on creativity that I want to share with you. Here are some of my favorite quotes, chosen from the hundreds out there.

(I’ll provide the source of these quotes because it bugs me that so many quotes on the Internet are wrongly credited, misquoted, or can’t be verified.)

1. “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle

2. “Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.”

John Cleese (lecture 1991)

3. “The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

Mary Oliver Upstream: Selected Essays

4. “To create anything…is to believe, if only momentarily, you are capable of magic…That magic…is sometimes perilous, sometimes infectious, sometimes fragile, sometimes failed, sometimes infuriating, sometimes triumphant, and sometimes tragic.”

Tom Bissell, Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation

5. “I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Albert Einstein as interviewed by George Sylvester Viereck in the October 26, 1929 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

6. “In our later years, it becomes imperative to increase our capacity to hold creative tension, allowing far greater and more inclusive solutions and options to emerge. By befriending and strengthening our capacity to hold paradox, we can explore the realm of deep spiritual growth.”

Angeles Arrien The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom

“Creativity arises from a constant churn of ideas, and one of the easiest ways to encourage that fertile froth is to keep your mind engaged with your project. When you work regularly, inspiration strikes regularly.”

Gretchen Rubin, Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

7. “C.G.Jung once wrote that creativity is an instinct, not an optional gift granted to a lucky few. If you don’t find a way to be creative in life, that instinct goes repressed and frustrated, You feel its loss as a deflation, the spirit leaking out of your sense of self. You feel empty, disengaged, and unfulfilled.”

Thomas Moore, A Life at Work

8. “There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say, ‘It is yet more difficult than you thought.’ This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

Thomas Berry, Standing by Words

9. The trick to creativity, if there is a single useful thing to say about it, is to identify your own peculiar talent and then to settle down to work with it for a good long time.”

Denise Shekerjian, author of Uncommon Genius: How Great Ideas Are Born

10. “At every level of life – from personal to political – our creativity is being shut down because we are so vulnerable to fear. And there are so many forces out there working hard to manipulate our fear to keep us shut down, in line, and under control.”

Parker Palmer, in Yale University Reflections on-line magazine.

11. Creativity or talent, like electricity, is something I don’t understand but something I’m able to harness and use. While electricity remains a mystery, I know I can plug into it and light up a cathedral or a synagogue or an operating room and use it to help save a life. Or I can use it to electrocute someone. Like electricity, creativity makes no judgment. I can use it productively or destructively.

The important thing is to use it. You can’t use up creativity. The more you use it, the more you have.”

Maya Angelou conversation with Bill Moyers in Conversations with Maya Angelou

12. The picture below is from Rumi: The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing, by Jalal al-Din Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks.

Let the beauty we love be what we do!

2 Responses

  1. Thank you, dear Sally! I so needed this now. I just fully retired and needed the inspiration to routinize my life around my art. Around clearing my brain (exercise & meditation). Around surrounding myself with beauty. Thank you!

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