Sometimes, when we get stuck in a creative rut, it's often the simplest advice that can help. Below are quotes from some of history's greatest painters, writers, entrepreneurs, scientists, etc. guaranteed to give you a sharp shift in your thinking.
If you find one that catches your attention, considering copying it out and keeping it in a place where you can see it daily.
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” - Pablo Picasso
“When I say artist I mean the one who is building things … some with a brush – some with a shovel – some choose a pen.” - Jackson Pollock
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” - Vincent Van Gogh
“Art doesn’t have to be pretty. It has to be meaningful.” - Duane Hanson
“I am interested in art as a means of living a life; not as a means of making a living.” - Robert Henri
”Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” - Steven Pressfield
“Art is the act of navigating without a map.” - Seth Godin
“Don’t try to be different. Just be good. To be good is different enough.” - Arthur Freed
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” - Oscar Wilde
“Be yourself — not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” - Henry David Thoreau
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” - Steve Jobs
“Sometimes you gotta create what you want to be part of.” - Geri Weitzman
“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
“I invent nothing, I rediscover.” - Auguste Rodin
“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.” - Marc Chagall
“Find something only you can say” - James Dickey
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” - Stephen King
“Work like hell! I had 122 rejection slips before I sold a story.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
“An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.” - Charles Horton Cooley
“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
“Truly creative people care a little about what they have done, and a lot about what they are doing. Their driving focus is the life force that surges in them now.” - Alan Cohen
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” - Maya Angelou
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” - Walt Disney
“People often remark that I’m pretty lucky. Luck is only important in so far as getting the change to sell yourself at the right moment. After that, you’ve got to have talent and know how to use it.” - Frank Sinatra
"It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” - Albert Einstein
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” - Muhammad Ali
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” - Stephen King
“It is not enough to be busy… The question is: what are we busy about?” - Henry David Thoreau
“Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” - Coco Chanel
“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” - Tim Ferriss
“Lost time is never found again.” - Benjamin Franklin
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin
“You don’t need a new plan for next year. You need a commitment.” - Seth Godin
“You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action.” - Tony Robbins
“There is no substitute for hard work.” - Thomas Edison
“The only way around is through.” - Robert Frost
“The way we measure productivity is flawed. People checking their BlackBerry over dinner is not the measure of productivity.” - Timothy Ferriss
“To make something great you must do the making.” - Ryan Holiday
“The more nervous and scared you are, the better it bodes for the project.” - Ryan Holiday
“If coming up with ten ideas sounds too hard, then come up with twenty.” - James Altucher
“You can’t find your passion if you don’t push through pain.” - Jeff Goins
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” - Paulo Coelho
“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
What is a Vision Board?
Vision boards (sometimes known as dream or inspiration boards) are a simple, effective and valuable method of visualisation.
A vision board is a collection/collage that consists of inspirational images of the future you want, and represents your dreams, goals and ideals life.
The idea of them is that when you are surrounded or faced with the images of who you want to become, what you want to achieve, the life you want, the job you want, etc., you change your life in order to match what is on the board.
The classic version of vision boarding is to gather pictures, quotes, ideas, etc. and collect them on a bulletin board.
Usually made from standard cork or poster boards, by collecting visual representations of your creative goals in one place you can see them frequently and be more inspired.
When it comes to vision boarding for creativity, physically seeing the type of things on a daily basis you wish to achieve is highly motivating.
If you write, collect quotes from writers, poems, book covers, etc., if you're a photographer, collect photos or photos of people, places and textures that inspire you.
Make a Vision Board
- either a cork bulletin board (at least A3 in size), a poster board or similar (you could also consider making a digital one at Pinterest or Milanote.
- pins, sticky tape, etc.
Collect anything that inspires you, don’t be afraid to use different textures or three dimensional items.
Collect from magazines, postcards, Google image search, websites, newspapers, etc.
For some examples, click here.
Display it where you can see it regularly.
Every time you see something that inspires you, collect it.
Be specific - design the future you want for yourself.
“You have to do stuff that average people don't understand because those are the only good things.” - Andy Warhol
The well-known phrase, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time,” by John Lydgate, (a medieval monk and poet), is particularly relevant in the world of creativity.
Not everybody will like your work. And why should they?
For example, think of a bestselling book that you dislike. It has many readers and fans, but you don’t like it. So what? You don’t need to attack it, or vocalise your dislike of it. Let others hate it and waste their energy on criticising it, just love the work you love.
Or think of a popular band with millions of fans around the world that you dislike. Ask yourself why you don’t like them and what it is about their work that doesn’t interest you.
Not everyone will like your work and that’s the way it should be.
Trying to make an impression on others is not your task. What your job is, is to create.
If you intentionally try to make your work likeable you’re going to severely restrict yourself, sticking to a formula and not expanding your horizons or growing artistically.
Making your work likeable will lead to dumbing yourself down, that is, making something simpler and easier for people to understand, particularly in order to make it more popular.
Even some of the greatest artists have had their detractors.
Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star Newspaper because his editor thought he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
Vincent van Gogh received hardly any acclaim during his lifetime, only ever selling one painting for a small fee to a friend. His paintings have since been sold for up to $82.5 million.
Socrates was labeled as an “immoral corrupter of youth” and his innovative ideas lead to his eventual death sentence.
Be yourself and be faithful to your values and ideals.
Excerpt from 'You Can Create! 24 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Potential'.
Subscribe today to get your FREE copy.
Take Time to Reflect on Your Creative Ability
Often, when we work on a creative project, we can easily fall into the “this isn’t" or the "I'm not good enough" phase. We can suffer from Imposter Syndrome, and begin to wonder if we’re actually cut out to be creative at all.
When this happens, think back to your earlier creative work and achievements.
If you’ve ever painted a picture, written a song, started a business, whatever, it can be easy to forget that there once was a time when those things didn't exist in the world until you made them.
The struggle they brought at the time has long ebbed though, almost as if they were never out of existence.
When you’re feeling uncreative and struggling to come up with new ideas or doubting whether you can carry on with your work, take time to reflect on the things which you have already accomplished, both the small things and the big things.
Don’t analyse the creative process, don't think about how you made them, don't think about why you like them or what you dislike about them, simply appreciate that you made them exist.
Recognise and compliment yourself that they are yours, that you gave birth to the fundamental idea that brought them into being.
“If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive—no matter how skilled or talented you are.”
- Cal Newport
Deep work is a technique and method developed by Cal Newport, a computer scientist professor at Georgetown University.
Unusually for a computer scientist, Newport isn't on social media although he blogs regularly at http://calnewport.com/blog/
Cal Newport is the author of 'Deep Work; Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World' and 'So Good They Can't Ignore You.'
What is Deep Work?
Deep Work refers to the ability to work consistently at a demanding task using complete focus and without any distraction.
Basically, you have to ‘go deep’.
Newport states about creative tasks that you should “…work on it as hard as your brain is capable for an extended amount of time without any distractions.”
It requires not just a block of time in which to work but focused discipline and concentration within that time. The time you set aside should be just for working and nothing else.
It might seem obvious that focused work is essential to fulfilling your creative and productive needs, but DOING deep work is not necessarily as easy as it sounds.
Learning Deep Work allows you to master complex tasks in less time than it would usually take.
When Are We Not Doing Deep Work?
Although many of us dedicate time to work and tasks, how much of that time is actually alloted to the tasks?
How often have you invited things into that time (e.g. social media, procrastination) that have runied your focus and concentration?
You then wonder why you feel so much has been left undone, wondering why it doesn't seem like there enough hours in the day.
“It's very easy to confuse activity with productivity” - Tim Ferris
Newport points out the difference between Deep Work and Shallow Work:
Deep Work: Demanding tasks that require you to focus without no distractions and which require skills that are hard to replicate or master.
Shallow Work: Tasks that do not require intense focus, don’t require skills and which are difficult to replicate or master
How To Do Deep Work
1) Batch challenging tasks
2) Eliminate Distractions
Asses all the distractions in your life that you can safely eliminate.Ask yourself what you need to do and what you don’t need to do.
3) Schedule your Deep Work time.
Remember also to treat it with the respect it deserves.
4) Track how much time you spend doing Deep Work
Deep Work is also being mindful about the way you work. Recognise when you're doing deep work and resit the urge to distract yourself.