Welcome! There are more than 900 Inspirational Quotes For Writers, Artists and Other Creative Leaders on this site.
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Monday, April 30, 2012

Alexander Graham Bell

"A man, as a general rule, owes very little to what he is born with — a man is what he makes of himself."

Scotish Scientist/Inventor
1847 - 1922

Most of us come into this world with nothing but the love of our parents and some do not have even that.  There is nothing written on our birth certificates about us being writers, doctors, farmers, artists or lawyers.  All of that comes much later.   Each of us makes himself into what he becomes.  Some do become farmers, lawyers, doctors, poets, preachers, actors, artists and creative leaders.  But who we become is in our hands.  We choose the direction our lives are to take.  Have you become the person you want to be?  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Anita Brookner

"You never know what you will learn till you start writing.  Then you discover truths you never knew existed."

English Novelist
1928 -

Through the creation of works of art, we are privileged to discover the truth about ourselves and the world we inhabit.  What truths have you learned about yourself?  What has the process of creation revealed to you?  Are you paying attention to the process?  Are you demanding more of yourself?  Listen to the wind strumming your hair.  Choose to be alive and full of hope.  Dance with the romance of life.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Steve Martin

"Despite a lack of natural ability, I did have the one element necessary to all early creativity: naivete, that fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do."

American Comedian/Actor/Author
1945 -

As creative leaders we must begin each project with beginner's mind.  Being naive allows us to try new things without the history of the past.  I heard a story of a new garment salesman in New York.  Every experienced salesman knew that the buyers did not want to see a salesman during the Christmas holiday so they did not make sales calls.  The new guy didn't know the past so he made sales calls and outsold everyone that month.  Don't let the myths get in your way.  Choose to see the world with the eyes of a child.  Be open to new ways, new habits.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thomas Edison

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

American Inventor
1847 - 1931

Since we don't know the future, we often give up on our goals before we should.  Sometimes the closer we come to achieving our goals, the more discouraged we become.  To us the night appears to be darkest before the dawn.  So the key is not to give up on your dreams.  Hold fast to your dreams.  

Thomas Edison held over a thousand U.S. Patents in his lifetime.  He invented the phonograph, the motion picture camera, a stock ticker, a vote recorder and the light bulb.  In 1914 the phonograph factory of Thomas Edison burnt to the ground.  Over night he lost more than 3 million dollars.  The next day when Edison was walking through this burnt out factory, his son came over to console him.  Thomas Edison turned to his son and said:  "There is great value in disaster.  It burns up all our mistakes.  Thank God we can start anew."  Within three months, he went out and build a new factory, redesigned the phonograph and gave the world a brand new phonograph.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Martin Buber

"Play is the exultation of the possible."

— Martin Buber
Austrian Philosopher/Writer
1878 - 1965

Adults often forget how to play.  We become too serious and think play is beneath us.  The truth is that play relaxes us and helps us be more creative.  So relearn how to play and have fun.  Create your own games.  Fantasize about the world.  Explore the possibilities.  Some of the best play is unplanned and spontaneous.  Be ready to follow the path of the unexpected.  Learn to be silly and goofy.  Be willing to be and look foolish.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lucy Maud Montgomery

"Humor is the spiciest condiment in the feast of existence.  Laugh at your mistakes but learn from them, joke over your troubles but gather strength from them, make a jest of your difficulties but overcome them."

— Lucy Maud Montgomery
Canadian Novelist
1874 - 1942

Have you laughed today?  We all make mistakes, face difficulties and have to cope with troubles.  The opportunity is to successfully navigate the white water rapids and find your way safely home to the warm fires of love.  Find the humor in the most difficult situations.  Look for the brighter side.  

Listen to Jane Urquhart, the biographer of L. M. Montgomery, talk about the writer.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jean Toomer

"We learn the rope of life by untying its knots."

— Jean Toomer
American Writer
1894 - 1967)

Many people wish that what they know at sixty they had known at twenty.  Unfortunately, life does not work that way.  Life is a process of learning and growing.  The mistakes we make at 20 help make the person we become at 60.  And for writers and artists the same is true.  We perfect our art as we grow.  What we write at 15 is not the same as what we write at 30.

What knots have you untied?  What have you learned that has made you a better person?

Here is a poem by Jean Toomer.

Portrait in Geogia

Hair--braided chestnut,
     coiled like a lyncher's rope,
Lips--old scars, or the first red blisters,
Breath--the last sweet scent of cane,
And her slim body, white as the ash
     of black flesh after flame.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Margaret Thatcher

"Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction."

British Prime Minister
1925 -

Self-discipline is the key to success in anything one attempts.  As creative leaders we need to nurture and practice self-discipline.  Self-discipline requires sacrifice in the short-term in order to achieve long-term goals.  Yet many do not have the patience to wait.  They want it all and they want it now.

I watched the movie, The Iron Lady, about the life of Margaret Thatcher this past weekend.  Whether or not you are a fan of Thatcher and her politics, this is a movie that you need to see.  It tells the story of Thatcher's rise to power from a grocer's daughter to a powerful world leader.  She lived a life of self-discipline and personal sacrifice that allowed her to accomplish many things on the world stage.

Meryl Streep, who won an Oscar for best actress in this movie, does a fantastic job in playing Margaret Thatcher.  Thatcher like President Reagan before her suffers  from dementia.  The story is told through flashbacks between present day and the past.  Watch the movie trailer.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Max de Pree

"We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity.  We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing and inclusion."

— Max de Pree
American Author/Businessman 
1924 - 

How we relate and interact with others is important to our success.  We need to treat others with the same respect and courtesy that we wish to be treated.  If we give others the space to grow, we will grow.  If we allow others to be themselves, then we can be ourselves.    it is only with others that we find ideas, dignity and healing.  How we interact with others impacts how others interact with us.  What we give is what we get back.  How are your relationships today?  Healthy?  Growing?  Inclusive?  Joyful?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Judson Jerome

"Poetry is more fundamental than written language... It is one of the characteristics that defines us as human... Where there are people, there is speech; where there is speech, there is poetry."

American Author
1927 - 1991

I just pulled off my bookshelf the first book about writing poetry that I ever read.  I purchased it in 1967.  The book is The Poet and the Poem by Judson Jerome.  For more than 30 years, Jerome wrote the poetry column for Writer's Digest.  The title of the first chapter is:  "Are You A Poet?"  The first two sentences read:  "Of course, you think you are.  I have never met a person who has never written a poem."

Many people write what they think is poetry.  Most have no clue as to what poetry really is and many have never read a book of poetry.  Few people would take up painting without studying the masters of the past.  Most people wouldn't attempt to play the piano without studying the greats.  Yet, many who have not ever read a poem will pick up a pen and attempt to write one.

As Jerome says, "where there is speech, there is poetry.  Poetry is in our DNA.  Poetry is at the heart of language.  So maybe we all at some level are poets.  We may not be great poets or even good poets, and we may write bad poems, but we still call ourselves poets.  And that is okay.  We should not stop writing, painting or singing simply because we are not successful.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Yo-Yo Ma

"I will make a mistake on stage.  And you know what?  I welcome that first mistake.  Because then I can shrug it off and keep smiling.  Then I can get on with the performance and turn off that part of the mind that judges everything.  I'm not thinking or worrying anymore."

Chinese-American Musician
1955 -

Being perfect does not make us successful.  Often it is the mistakes that make us who we become.  The mistakes make us human.  People often identify with our mistakes more than our successes.  I once hired a speaker who through her stories appeared to live the perfect life and she turned off at least a third of the audience.  Sometimes it is better to show weakness than strength.  So forgive yourself your mistakes.  They are what make you human and will eventually make you successful.  Often new ideas, products and opportunities come from failures.  How have you benefited from your failures?

Listen to Yo-Yo Ma talk and perform.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Christopher Reeve

"A hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles."

American Actor
1952 - 2004

Life is filled with obstacles that are designed to test our desire and persistence.  Many people give up on their dreams and hopes much too soon.  Others never realize that they achieved their dreams because they do not understand their true desires.  How are you doing with the obstacles in your life?  Are you still going after your dreams or have you given up?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Anthony Robbins

"Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more."

American Author/Speaker
1960 -

Life is truly a gift that each of us has been given.  What we do with that life is our choice.  What we achieve, what we accomplish, and what we do with the gift we have been given is up to us.  What have you done with the gift you have been given?  How have you given something back?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ludwig van Beethoven

Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler
"I make many changes, and reject and try again, until I am satisfied."

German Composer and Pianist
1770 -1827

Writers rewrite their material.  Artists draw and sketch before beginning the final painting.  Musicians rewrite their compositions.  Rarely is a creative work finished in the mind of the creator.  He is continuously revising and recreating.  Most writers and artists spend their lives exploring a few key themes.  They write the same novel over and over or paint the same painting again and again.  What are the themes that you are exploring in your creative work?  

For your listening pleasure as you think, here is Beethoven's Tempest Sonata performed by Wilhelm Kempff.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Caroline Myss

"Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that's the one that is going to require the most from you."

American Author
1952 -

Through out life we are faced with choices.  Some are easy to make and some are difficult, but the choices that require courage are the ones that will teach us the most.  Being an artist can be a courageous choice if our parents and siblings stand against us.  Choosing to leave a secure job with benefits to paint or write full-time can be a courageous act.  The choices we make help to define who we are and who we become.  What choices are you making today that require courage?  What choices are you making that will challenge and teach you the most?  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Leo Buscaglia

"Happiness and love are just a choice away."

American Author
1924 - 1998

Have you chosen to be happy?  Or have you chosen to be miserable?  Happiness, I believe, is a choice.  We may have little or no control over what happens to us, but we do have control over our attitude.  We have control over how we respond to what happens to us?  We can wallow in self-pity or we can pick ourselves up and put a smile on our face.  Have you chosen to be happy?  Do you enjoy life?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Susan Minot

"I also find solace in painting because it's an alternative to writing.  It doesn't involve words, and while it requires concentration that makes the time you are doing it disappear, it does not involve the mind the same way, or require logic in the same way.  Painting allows me to convey something not from my head, but from my hand, through images."

American Novelist
1956 - 

I have taken up painting late in life but like Susan I find it a great alternative outlet for my creativity.  I can paint for 2 to 3 hours and be totally lost in what I am doing.  Here is video of Susan Minot talking about both her writing and her art.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bob Dylan

"I don't know where my songs come from.  It's like a ghost is writing a song.  It gives you the song and it goes away.  You don't know what it means."

American Musician
1941 - 

Often we don't know the source of our creativity and so pretend that it came from a muse.  Have you ever written something and had no idea where it came from?  Have you ever painted something and surprised yourself with your own originality?  You are no different than the greatest writers, painters or musicians.  Be happy that the muse visited you.  Celebrate the gift of creativity that you have been given.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

William Trevor

"I believe in not quite knowing.  A writer needs to be doubtful, questioning.  I write out of curiosity and bewilderment."

Irish Novelist
1928 -

I believe that all creative leaders need to doubt and question.  If we just accept the world as is, there is no progress.  It is only through doubt that we are able to follow new paths and create new opportunities.  Cultivate the doubt in you life.  Use it to find your way.  Some people have a difficult time living in the uncertainty of doubt.  They want everything to be black and white.    Unfortunately, that is not the real world.  Uncertainty is a given.  You and I don't know when we will die.  Or when we are born.  Security is momentary.  Success is fleeting.  Learn to live with doubt.  Learn to question.  Learn to be curious.  Then maybe you will be happy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mark Strand

"Increasingly, I have felt that I don't see a painting until I turn away from it and don't read a poem until I close the book.  What I know or retain of either depends on what I am able to invent in their place."

Canadian Poet
1934 -

Memory is a teller of tales.  What we remember of a painting or a book has less to do with what is in it and more to do what is in our memories.  As readers we bring so much to a book and often we change the intention of the author and the meaning of the book through our reading.  Think about the books you have read or the paintings you have seen.  How much do you remember of the work itself versus your own experiences at the time?  The same is obviously true of songs.  Songs bring back memories of a time and place.  Song connects a generation.  Song connects lovers.  We shape our experience of art probably more than the art shapes us.  What do you remember of the last book your read or the last painting you saw? 

What does this have to say to us as creative leaders?  Don't let the comments of your audience and critics trouble you.  If the comments are negative, they are a reflection of the heart of the person expressing them.  If the comments are postive, they are a reflection of the heart of the person expressing them.  The comments are not about our art but about who they are as people and how they see the world.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Joan Miro

"Poetry and painting are done in the same way you make love; it's an exchange of blood, a total embrace — without caution, without any thought of protecting yourself.

Spanish Artist
1893 - 1983

One must give himself completely to his art and not hold back.  Throw caution to the wind.  Embrace the muse.  Make love to your art.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Harry S. Truman

"I have never forced myself to think when my energy was low.  I simply will not tackle a problem involving an important decision until I feel completely relaxed."

American Author/President
1884 - 1972

Do you know when you are the most creative?  Do you pay attention to your energy levels and when you work best?  For years my most creative time was in the morning and I would schedule my creative work during this time.  In recent years, I have found myself to be most creative in late afternoon or late evening.  As a creative leader, you should schedule your creative work during your best hours — when you have the most energy.

Harry S. Truman is one of my heroes.  Years ago, someone asked me who was President when I was born and I had no idea.  Once I discovered that it was Harry S. Truman, I began reading every book I could find on the man and he soon became my hero.  Here is a slide show I recently created to tell the love story of Harry and Bess.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Thomas Kinkade

"Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life.  It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them."

American Painter
1958 - 2012

Service to others is a privilege.  Have you found ways to serve others with your talents?  Have you found a way to use your gifts for the betterment of the world?  Have you given the world the best that you can give?  Remember to help others in their time of need.  

Here is Thomas Kinkade discussing his painting, Snow White Discovers the Cottage.  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Alex Haley

"I look at my books the way parents look at their children.  The fact that one becomes more successful than the others doesn't make me love the less successful one any less."

American Writer
1921 - 1992

As artists and writers we spend many hours creating our work and it is only natural that we become attached.  These creative works become our offspring.  And like parents we are very proud of our children and seek to defend them from attacks by others.  What writer or artist has not been hurt by the words of critics.  And like parents, we sometimes love one work of art more than we love another.  And sometimes our favorite child is the one that our readers like the least.  

What is your relationship to your creative work?  Are you defensive?  Do you love certain works more than others?  Why?  Have you ever destroyed your work?  Tore up a canvas?  Burned a manuscript?  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Elle Nicolai

"Creativity is a fragile, delicate flower which must be cautiously cared for and protected from the harsh elements of 'human weather."

French/American Artist

Don't take your creativity for granted.  Protect it from the onslaught of negativity.  If the people around you make fun of your creative talent, find new friends.  The negative words of those we trust can destroy our creative desires.  Surround yourself with people who encourage and support you.  Creative talent is fragile and easily destroyed.  

Here is a video of some of Elle Nicolai's paintings.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mary Tyler Moore

"Pain nourishes courage.  You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you."

American Actress
1936 -

Everyone faces challenges and difficulties.  No one skates through life without some pain and obstacles.  The characters we see on the TV screen or in the movies are not real.  Life itself does not have happy endings.  No matter when you were born, you will experience loss and death.  The key is finding the courage to face the pain, to live with the loss.  The pain can make us better artists and writers.  Think of all the creative people who have been able to transform the pain of childhood into a powerful motivation for creating their art.  What is the pain in your life?  How does it transform your art?  Does it make you a better person?  Are you able to grow beyond the pain?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Harley King

"May you wait patiently for your success with the belief and confidence that it will come."

— Harley King
American Speaker/Poet
1949 -

Many of us are impatient.  We can't wait.  We are in a hurry.  Yet success has its own timetable.  You can't hurry it.  So develop patience and have faith that when the time is right you will receive your moment in the sun.  Enjoy the moment.  Enjoy the present.  Don't worry about tomorrow.

Here are three of my short poems written in 2011.

What color
are your dreams,

my friend?
Bright blue?

Midnight red?
A thin pink?

I gather my fears in my hands.


I've grown old
with doubt,

a finger of time
between clouds

of darkness.
I open my mouth

and swallow the wind.


I am
the moon,

a faded light,
a distant dream.

Hold me
in your arms

that I may be free.