100 Quotes to Kick Your Creative Ass

Creative work is confusing. When you’re in the zone, it’s an exhilarating experience. When you’re up against deadline and out of ideas, it’s a total nightmare. But that’s what makes it so exciting; out of struggle and self-doubt comes something to call your own. Unfortunately, it’s easy to lose sight of that when you’re in the thick of it. To help combat those troubles, it helps to have a little advice and inspiration. That’s where a good quote comes in. Here are 100 quotes to help your creative process, whether you’re afraid to try something new or just can’t get yourself to do anything at all.

On Creativity

1) “Creativity is an act of defiance.” —Twyla Tharp, Choreographer

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2) “A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you—is a fine art, in and of itself.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, Writer


3) “Art is the lie that reveals the truth.” —Pablo Picasso, Artist

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4) “To be an artist means never to avert one’s eyes.” ―Akira Kurosawa, Filmmaker

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5) “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” —Albert Einstein, Physicist


6) “Creativity is a highfalutin word for the work I have to do between now and Tuesday.” —Ray Kroc, Entrepreneur


7) “It’s an artist’s right to rebel against the world’s stupidity.” ―E.A. Bucchianeri, Writer

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8) “I can always be distracted by love, but eventually I get horny for my creativity.” ―Gilda Radner, Comedian


9) “It’s easy to attack and destroy an act of creation. It’s a lot more difficult to perform one.” ―Chuck Palahniuk, Writer


10) “Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” —Twyla Tharp, Choreographer

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11) “Art is the overflow of emotion into action.” ―Brian Raif, Writer

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12) “The unfed mind devours itself.” —Gore Vidal, Writer

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13) “Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer; art is everything else.” ―Donald Ervin Knuth, Computer Scientist


14) “If we can’t, as artists, improve on real life, we should put down our pencils and go bake bread.” ―Barbara Kingsolver, Writer


15) “When I can no longer create anything, I’ll be done for.” —Coco Chanel, Fashion Designer

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16) “Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one dies.” —Erich Fromm, Psychologist


17) “Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.” —Edwin Land, Inventor


18) “A line is a dot that went for a walk.” —Paul Klee, Artist

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19) “If you want to build a boat, do not instruct the men to saw wood, stitch the sails, prepare the tools and organize the work, but make them long for setting sail and travel to distant lands.” —Antoine De Saint-Exupéry, Writer

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20) “The neural processes underlying that which we call creativity have nothing to do with rationality. That is to say, if we look at how the brain generates creativity, we will see that it is not a rational process at all; creativity is not born out of reasoning.” ―Rodolfo R. Llinás, Neuroscientist

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21) “There must always be two kinds of art: escape-art, for man needs escape as he needs food and deep sleep, and parable-art, that art which shall teach man to unlearn hatred and learn love.” ―W.H. Auden, Poet

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22) “Creativity is a lifestyle, and ideas are the product and lifeblood of that lifestyle.” —Miles G. Batt, Artist


On Experimentation and Failure

23) “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”  —Jack Canfield, Entrepreneur

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24) “There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun” ―Pablo Picasso, Artist


25) “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” ―Maya Angelou, Writer

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26) “No chaos, no creation. Evidence: the kitchen at mealtime.” —Mason Cooley, Professor

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27) “Progress, not perfection, is what we should be asking of ourselves.” ―Julia Cameron, Writer

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28) “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” —Henry Ward Beecher, Social reformer

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29) “The human spirit lives on creativity and dies in conformity and routine.” ―Vilayat Inayat Khan, Sufi Teacher

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30) “You can have no recipe with art. If you follow a recipe, you’re negating the creative act.” —Denise Hare, Photographer


31) “Failure sucks, but instructs.” ―David Kelley, Designer/Entrepreneur

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32) “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” —Scott Adams, Cartoonist

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33) “A fall from the third floor hurts as much as a fall from the hundredth. If I have to fall, may it be from a high place.” —Paulo Coelho, Lyricist

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34) “A creative mess is better than idle tidiness.” —Michael J. Fox, Actor

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35) “I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I still had a daughter who I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” —J. K. Rowling, Writer


36) “People who don’t take risks generally make about 2 big mistakes a year; people who do take risks generally make about 2 big mistakes a year” —Peter Drucker, Writer

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37) “The reason that art (writing, engaging, and all of it) is valuable is precisely why I can’t tell you how to do it. If there were a map, there’d be no art, because art is the act of navigating without a map.” —Seth Godin, Entrepreneur

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38) “I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.” —Rita Mae Brown, Writer

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39) “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” —Kurt Vonnegut, Writerc35 (4)

40) “The function of the creative artist consists of making laws, not in following laws already made.” —Ferruccio Busoni


On Ideas

41) “An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” —Oscar Wilde, Writer


42) “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” —John Steinbeck, Writer

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43) “It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.” —Edward de Bono, Physician

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44) “What’s the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules. – Christopher Nolan, Director

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45) “I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas.”—Albert Einstein, Physicist

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46) “A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.” —Mary Kay Ash, Entrepreneur

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47) “You can imprison a man, but not an idea. You can exile a man, but not an idea. You can kill a man, but not an idea.” —Benazir Bhutto, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan

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48) “The day you say ‘that SOB stole my idea’ is the day you need to face your own inability to execute” —Jonathan Fields, Speaker

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49) “All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.” —Albert Camus, Writer

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50) “What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.” —Eugene Delacroix

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51) “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” —John Cage, Composer

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On The Process

52) “The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.” —Junot Diaz, Writer

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53) “Don’t make it new; make it whole.” —Alex Ross, Comic Book Artist


54) “The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” ―Robert Henri, Artist


55) “A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.” —Paul Cezanne, Artist


56) “The creation of the world did not take place once and for all time, but takes place every day.” —Samuel Beckett, Writer

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57) “All things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation of all things.” —Stephen R. Covey, Educator

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58) “When the creative impulse sweeps over you, grab it. You grab it and honor it and use it, because momentum is a rare gift.” —Justina Chen, Writer

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59) “When the writer (or the artist in general) says he has worked without giving any thought to the rules of the process, he simply means he was working without realizing he knew the rules.” ―Umberto Eco, Writer

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On Creative Confidence

60) “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” —Sylvia Plath, Writer


61) “It might have been done before, but it hasn’t been done by you!” ―Elizabeth Gilbert, Writer

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62) “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things” —Ray Bradbury, Writer

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63) “There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.” —Martha Graham, Choreographer

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64) “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” —George Bernard Shaw, Playwright

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65) “The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” —Robert Hughes, Art Critic


66) “No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.” —Julia Cameron, Writer

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67) “Cowardice is the most terrible of vices.” ―Mikhail Bulgakov, Writer

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68) “Creative people are often found either disagreeable or intimidating by mediocrities.” ―Criss Jami, Writer

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69) “I’ve been all over the world and I’ve never seen a statue of a critic.” ―Leonard Bernstein, Composer

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70) “We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out the better.” ―Walt Stanchfield, Writer

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71) “You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” —Stephen King, Writer

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72) “Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” —Steven Pressfield, Writer

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73) “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” —Vincent Van Gogh, Artist

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74) “I don’t think there’s any artist of any value who doesn’t doubt what they’re doing.” —Francis Ford Coppola, Filmmaker

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75) “F@*# self-doubt. I despise it. I hold it in contempt, along with the hell-spawned ooze-pit of Resistance from which it crawled. I will NEVER back off. I will NEVER give the work anything less than 100%. If I go down in flames, so be it. I’ll be back.” —Steven Pressfield, Writer


76) “To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” —Aristotle, Philosopher

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77) “An artist never really finishes his work; he merely abandons it.” —Paul Valéry, Poet

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On Procrastination

78) “Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes, work never begun.” —Christina Rossetti, Poet

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79) “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” —Andy Warhol, Artist

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80) “No one has ever written or painted, sculpted, modeled, built, invented, except to get out of hell.” —Antonin Artaud, Dramatist


81) “Speed is absolutely key to creativity. The more time it takes to create something, the less likely you are to create something.” —Patrick Stump, Singer-Songwriter

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82) “If you catch the writers block virus, take an extra large dose of JUST WRITE pill, mix it with DETERMINATION and DESIRE. You will write and spread your message like petrol on fire.” ―Celeste Alexander, Educator


83) “The sooner you finish procrastinating, the sooner you can get back to your art.” ―Stephanie Lennox, Writer

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84) “Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite–getting something down.” —Julia Cameron, Writer

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85) “Pencil. Paper. Forget the world.” ―Shaun Hick, Writer

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86) “Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.” —Bruce Garrabrandt, Artist

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87) “You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.” ―Bill Watterson, Cartoonist

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88) “Someday is not a day of the week.” ―Janet Dailey, Writer

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89) “The scholar’s greatest weakness: calling procrastination research.” ―Stephen King, Writer

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90) “It’s always too early to quit.” —Norman Vincent Peale, Minister

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91) “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” —Jack London, Writer


On the Hustle

92) “Create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave.” —Constantin Brancusi, Sculptor

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93) “You can clear out whatever obstacles are preventing you from living your most creative life, with the simple understanding that whatever is bad for you is probably also bad for your work.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Writer

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94) “If a composer suffers from loss of sleep and his sleeplessness induces him to turn out masterpieces, what a profitable loss it is!” ―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Writer

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95) “The discipline of creation, be it to paint, compose, write, is an effort towards wholeness.” ―Madeleine L’Engle, Writer

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96) “Let the blood and the bruises define your legacy.” ―Lady Gaga, Musician

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97) “The ‘if I had time’ lie is a convenient way to ignore the fact that novels require being written and that writing happens a sentence at a time. Sentences can happen in a moment. Enough stolen moments, enough stolen sentences, and a novel is born—without the luxury of time.” ―Julia Cameron, Writer

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98) “Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.” —Norman Vincent Peale, Minister

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99) “I’m far from being god, but I work god damn hard.” —Jay Z, Rapper

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100) “Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.” ―Rita Mae Brown, Writer

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