Quotes on Creativity, Art, and Writing

Pulled from famous artists, my favorite authors, songs, and poems, these unconventional quotes about art, creativity, and writing are simply a collection of the ones that resonated with me most deeply. Some famous quotes are likely missing, but it’s a list where you are guaranteed to read one you haven’t seen listed elsewhere. It’s an eclectic and evolving mix. I update monthly as I encounter new thoughts and tidbits I love.


The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another, and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.” — J.M. Barrie


You get no points for the living, I tell my students. It isn’t enough to have had an interesting or hilarious or tragic life. Art isn’t anecdote. It’s the consciousness we bring to bear on our lives. For what happened in the story to transcend the limits of the personal, it must be driven by the engine of what the story means.”   — Cheryl Strayed


Life is not what happened to you but what you remember and how you remember it to retell it.”   — Gabriel García Márquez


Every reader finds himself. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself.”   — Marcel Proust


This is the nature of mastery: Mastery is an asymptote. You can approach it. You can home in on it. You can get really, really, really close to it. But like Cézanne, you can never touch it. Mastery is impossible to realize fully.”   — Daniel Pink


Autonomous people working toward mastery perform at very high levels. But those who do so in the service of some greater objective can achieve even more. The most deeply motivated people—not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied—hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.”   — Daniel Pink


A good storyteller is the conscience-keeper of a nation.”   — Gulzar


Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feeling for the strength of their argument. The heated mind resents the chill touch and relentless scrutiny of logic.”   — William E. Gladstone


Neuroeconomist Paul Zak has found that hearing a story—a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end—causes our brains to release cortisol and oxytocin. These chemicals trigger the uniquely human abilities to connect, empathize, and make meaning. Story is literally in our DNA.”   — Brené Brown


The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best – and therefore never scrutinize or question.”   — Stephen Jay Gould


We have to be continually jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way.” — Kurt Vonnegut


A study published in the October 22, 2014, issue of the journal Neuron suggests that the brain’s chemistry changes when we become curious, helping us better learn and retain information.” — Brené Brown


The radical novelty of modern science lies precisely in the rejection of the belief … that the forces which move the stars and atoms are contingent upon the preferences of the human heart.”   — Walter Lippmann


The secret is “deliberate practice”—highly repetitive, mentally demanding work that’s often unpleasant, but undeniably effective. Type I Insight: “If you set a goal of becoming an expert in your business, you would immediately start doing all kinds of things you don’t do now.”   — Daniel Pink


The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself – the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us – that’s where it’s at.”   — Jesse Owens


Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” — Steve Jobs


Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”   — Ira Glass


The goal of life is rapture. Art is the way we experience it. Art is the transforming experience.</em” — Joseph Campbell


The higher up you go, the more mistakes you are allowed. Right at the top, if you make enough of them, it’s considered to be your style.”   — Fred Astaire


 

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