15 Quotes to Jumpstart Your Creative Thinking

Man with lightbulb on top of his head

Are you having trouble getting the ideas to flow? Find out how others have approached creative thinking with these compelling statements.

We’ve all been there: You’re on deadline and under pressure to do your best work, but the more desperately you hunt for good ideas, the more elusive they become. To help you bust through the block, we’ve dug up thoughts about creativity from artists, designers, writers and other brilliant minds who’ve discovered the secret to luring the muse into their work. Spoiler alert: If you can figure out how to balance a playful mind with the ability to buckle down and do the work once inspiration strikes, you may very well join the ranks of these creative heavyweights.

“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head almost nothing.” – Marc Chagall, artist

“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” – Julia Cameron, author

“There are no formulas in creative work. I do many variations, which is a question of curiosity. I arrive at many different configurations ­– some just slight variations, others more radical – of an original idea. It is a game of evolution.” – Paul Rand, art director and graphic designer

“Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.” – John Cleese, comedian

“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.” – Susan Sontag, author, playwright and filmmaker

“Creativity is an act of defiance.” – Twyla Tharp, dancer, choreographer and author

“When you are stuck, walk away from the computer and draw. It will teach you how to see.” ­– Gerard Huerta, graphic designer

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.” – Steve Jobs, Cofounder of Apple

“Creativity is a gift. It doesn’t come through if the air is cluttered.” – John Lennon, musician

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” – Ray Bradbury, author

“Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas.” – Donatella Versace, fashion designer

“I think that as long as you still have questions, the child questions, the muse has got to be there. You throw a question up to the muse and maybe they drop something back on you.” – Joni Mitchell, songwriter and musician

“Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.” – Dorothy Parker, poet, author, critic and satirist

“Failure is built into creativity… the creative act involves this element of ‘newness’ and ‘experimentalism,’ then one must expect and accept the possibility of failure.” – Saul Bass, graphic designer

“Instead of searching for inspiration, how about you search out someone to inspire.” – Tony Kim, photographer

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