While I know that reading about creativity isn’t the same as making something (and reading about writing isn’t the same as writing), I love reading quotes by fellow creatives when I can’t have my fingers in paint, my hands in the soil, or my wrists on the keyboard.
Spending time in creative processes has brought light while I walk through the valley of the shadow of grief.
Going within myself to generate just about anything has been an antidote to loss.
When I’m creating, it doesn’t matter whether I’m numb, joyful, depressed, anxious, or excited. All of my emotions can fuel my work.
The creative process pulls me out of myself and into what I’m doing—while helping me stay firmly anchored in myself.
Sometimes, I’m rewarded by beauty or the emergence of something interesting. Other times, I find peace as I surrender to the moment—the only place from which I can create/write/paint/laugh, etc.
Tools to keep growing
Currently, I’m compiling a list of favorite resources, book and quotes. Maybe I’ll make an e-book to share with my friends (including you!). My top three books inspiring my creative process—this month—are:
The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin. Rubin has distilled easily-hold-onto-able wisdom from his years of experience as a creative and record producer.
Art and Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. David Bayles and Ted Orland teamed up to publish this classic in 2001. This is my second round reading it and it stands up to the test of time. While it explores the risks and joys of artmaking, it dives into the fear lurking in any creative process.
Dancing with the Muse in Old Age by Priscilla Long. I’m into Muses, dancing, and old age – so what’s not to love about these stories of older creatives? (Listen to my interview with her here.)
I’m a quote-aholic and for this post, I searched the words of women, including BIPOC and LGBTQ women. I wanted to go beyond the usual suspects on creativity and the creative process: Elizabeth Gilbert (Big Magic), Julia Cameron (The Artist Way), Anne Lamott, (Bird by Bird) Twyla Tharpe (The Creative Habit)—all great but there’s so much more wisdom available.
“The imagination equips us to perceive reality when it is not full materialized.”
“Let no one be deluded that a knowledge of the path can substitute for putting one foot in front of the other. “
“All the arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life.”M.C. RIchards, poet, potter, author in Centering in Pottery, Poetry and the Person.
“You learn for yourself not for others, not to show off, not to put the other one down/ learning is your secret, it is all you have, it is the only thing you can call your own. nobody can take it away.” –
“Every day you have to abandon your past or accept it, and then, if you cannot accept it, you become a sculptor.”Louise Bourgeois, sculptor, painter. Attributed.
Bourgeois’ giant spider sculpture in Bilbao.
“If you find me in my work, I haven’t done my job. If you find yourself, then I’m an artist.”Brandi Carlile, Singer/songwriter in Broken Horses
“Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself.”Octavia Butler, writer. (Source: Octavia E. Butler’s journals, The Huntington Library)
“The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is – it’s to imagine what is possible.”bell hooks: (Source: Reel to Real: Race, Sex and Class at the Movies, 1996)
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”Maya Angelou, author. Attributed.
“The artist must elect to fight for freedom or for slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative.”Josephine Baker, singer. (Source: Speech at the March on Washington, 1963)
“Creativity is a practice of freedom. Art is the practice of imagining what freedom looks like, feels like, and how it can manifest for all people.” (Source: Instagram post, 2019)Indya Moore, actor. (Source: Instagram post, 2019)
“Creativity begets creativity. When we engage with great work, we set a higher standard for our own work.”Roxane Gay:, author. (Source: Attirbuted to The New York Times, interview 2015)
Of course, there are many more. So many that I think it’s time for me to create a resource guide to books and quotes on creativity that can help me and others overcome blocks, find purpose in what we’re doing even if it is never recognized, and discover how our creative powers offer us tools for personal and social change.
I hope you’ll share your personal favorite resources with me!