However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.
—Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) American Philosopher
The artist speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives; to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain; to the latent feeling of fellowship with all creation—and to the subtle but invincible conviction of solidarity in dreams, in joy, in sorrow, in aspirations, in illusions, in hope, in fear … which binds together all humanity—the dead to the living and the living to the unborn.
—Joseph Conrad (1857–1924) Polish-born British Novelist
When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.
—Cynthia Heimel (1947–2018) American Humor Columnist, Feminist
Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.
Creativity is rich with unexpected possibility. Know-how is mere fragmented mechanics which lacks tradition.
—John O’Donohue (1956–2008) Irish Priest, Hegelian Philosopher
Man is a creature made at the end of the week’s work when God was tired.
—Mark Twain (1835–1910) American Humorist
All works of art are commissioned in the sense that no artist can create one by a simple act of will but must wait until what he believes to be a good idea for a work “comes” to him.
—W. H. Auden (1907–73) British-born American Poet, Dramatist
The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: a human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him, a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create—so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.
—Pearl S. Buck (1892–1973) American Novelist, Human Rights Activist
The capacity to be puzzled is … the premise of all creation, be it in art or in science.
—Erich Fromm (1900–80) German-American Psychoanalyst, Social Philosopher
Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.
—Mae Jemison (b.1956) American Physician, Astronaut
We are the music makers,
We are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams-
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams;
We are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems.
—Arthur O’Shaughnessy (1844–81) British Poet, Herpetologist
Genius is initiative on fire.
—Holbrook Jackson (1874–1948) British Journalist, Writer, Publisher
If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.
—Michael Jordan (b.1963) American Sportsperson, Businessperson
A problem defined is half solved.
—John Dewey (1859–1952) American Philosopher, Psychologist, Educator
Even the best writer has to erase sometimes.
The creative person, the person who moves from an irrational source of power, has to face the fact that this power antagonizes. Under all the superficial praise of the “creative” is the desire to kill. It is the old war between the mystic and the nonmystic, a war to the death.
—May Sarton (1912–95) American Children’s Books Writer, Poet, Novelist
To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
—Joseph Chilton Pearce (1926–2016) American Author
Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem.
—Rollo May (1909–94) American Philosopher
If you are going to be original, you are going to be wrong a lot.
I will master something, then the creativity will come.
The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
—Albert Einstein (1879–1955) German-born Physicist
The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.
—Karl Marx (1818–1883) German Philosopher, Economist
Creativity is a highfalutin’ word for the work I have to do between now and Tuesday.
—Ray Kroc (1902–84) American Entrepreneur, Businessperson
No greater thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.
—Epictetus (55–135) Ancient Greek Philosopher
It is almost as if you were frantically constructing another world while the world that you live in dissolves beneath your feet, and that your survival depends on completing this construction at least one second before the old habitation collapses.
—Tennessee Williams (1911–83) American Playwright
No one has ever written, painted, sculpted, modeled, built, or invented except literally to get out of hell.
—Antonin Artaud (1896–1948) French Actor, Drama Theorist
Can’t make a mistake, can’t make anything.
—Marva Collins (b.1936) American Educator
The chief enemy of creativity is “good” sense.
—Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) Spanish Painter, Sculptor, Artist
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
—Scott Adams (b.1957) American Cartoonist
What is the first business of one who practices philosophy? To get rid of self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows.
—Epictetus (55–135) Ancient Greek Philosopher