Welcome! There are more than 900 Inspirational Quotes For Writers, Artists and Other Creative Leaders on this site.
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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Napoleon Hill

"The starting point of all achievement is desire.  Keep this constantly in mind.  Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat."

American Author
1883 - 1970

The difference between the winners and losers is in the amount of desire they have.  Do you have the desire to do what it takes to become successful or do you give up too quickly?  Many people have dreams, hopes and even goals, but few have an abundance of desire.  For only if you have desire are you willing to make the sacrifices needed to be successful.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Octavia E. Butler

"You don't start out writing good stuff.  You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.  That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence."

American Novelist
1947 - 2006

Practicing any of the arts takes patience and persistence.  Nothing happens overnight.  Many people quit too soon.  They become frustrated because what they produce does not match what is in their imagination.  And this quitting begins early in life.  Today I saw a four-year old girl who was working on a painting of the ocean became frustrated because the painting did not match what was in her mind.  She burst into tears.  Has this happened to you?  Do you become so frustrated that you quit?  Do you give up on your work?

Here is a video about Octavia Butler.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Walt Disney

"All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them."

— Walt Disney
American Film Director, Producer
1901 - 1966

Why do you think that everyone is given dreams?  Why do you think some people never achieve their dreams?  Are unachieved dreams some form of punishment?  Does God want us to fail?  Are we meant to fail?  Are we given dreams we cannot achieve so we can suffer? Are we to blame because we failed?

Maybe it is time to examine your dreams and understand from where they came.  Maybe it is time to pursue your dreams — to believe in the gifts that you have been given.  Maybe it is time to follow your dreams no matter where they may lead you.  And remember your dreams may lead you to places you never dreamed about.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Abraham Lincoln

"I do the very best I know how — the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing it until the end."

American President
1809 - 1865

All we can hope to do is our very best.  We can do no more.  We will not be able to please everyone so we need to please ourselves.   Don't compare yourself to others.  They are not you.  You are unique.  There is not another person on this planet with the exact same talents and skills.  You are not in competition with others.  You are only in competition with yourself.  Do the very best that you can do and keep on doing it even when others don't appreciate it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mark Twain

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear."

American Writer 
1835 - 1910

Fear is important to our safety and longevity.  We need fear in order to be aware of danger.  Yet, fear can also be destructive if we are afraid of the wrong things.  Fear can both protect us and cause us harm.  The challenge is to distinguish between the two possible results.  If we are in danger, fear will help protect us.  But if we are not in danger, yet are afraid, the fear causes harm to the soul and the spirit.

As writers and artists, we should not be afraid to create.  This fear is harmful to the soul.  Resist this kind of fear.  Learn to master the fear.  Don't let the fear overwhelm you.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

George S. Patton

"If a man has done his best, what else is there?"


American General
1885 - 1945

If you have done your best, then pat yourself on the back and celebrate.   We are never going to be perfect.  We need to give it our best shot and stop worrying.  We are sometimes too harsh on ourselves and we must learn to accept who we are and what we have done. 

Now if we have not done our best, that is a different story.  We need to always push ourselves to do our best.  No loafing or pretending.  But once we have done our best, then we need to learn to let go.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Miguel de Cervantes

"He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he that loses courage loses all."

—Miguel de Cervantes
Spanish Novelist, Poet
1547 - 1616

Much of life is about loss.  From the day we are born we lose things.  Some children are abandoned at birth.  Others experience death at an early age.  Some people lose fortunes.  Others lose friends.  And some people lose themselves.  I lost a sister last Thanksgiving.  My wife lost a brother last week.  And I am sure that most people reading this have lost someone.  I have lost five jobs in my career, but I have never lost who I am.  Do you know who you are?  Are you where you are supposed to be?  What have you lost? 

The flip side of Cervantes' quote is that we all gain something.  Has a new child been born into your life?  Has some unexpected money come your way?  Have you gained a new friend?  A new lover?

Life is about lost and gain, give and take, birth and death.  Sometimes we feel as if we have lost more than we gained, but usually we have a lot to be thankful for.  Do you have an attitude of gratitude? 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Franklin D. Roosevelt

"The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today."

32nd President of the United States
1882 - 1945

We all have doubts and those doubts often hinder our success.  Have your doubts stopped you from doing what you want to do?  I have often second guessed myself.  When I buy something, I always question why I did what I did.  I recently traded in our car for a new one and of course as soon as I did it, I began to doubt the decision I made.  What doubts are preventing you from becoming the person you want to be?

Confidence is the key to success.  Even when you don't feel confident, you need to act confident.  You need to walk tall and proud.  Don't let your doubts hold you back.  Act confident today.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Charles Kettering

"The only time you can't afford to fail is the last time you try."

American Inventor
1876 - 1958

Many people give up too soon.  When something knocks you down, you need to pick yourself up and keep going.  Being knocked down is not failure.  Staying down is failure.  Don't give up.  Keep rising again and again.  

What projects have you given upon?  Have you been knocked down lately and want to quit?  It it time to give yourself a pep talk and pick yourself up.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tommy Lasorda

"The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination."

American Baseball Player/Manager
1927 - 

Do you have the determination to do the impossible?  We are have hopes and dreams, but many give up at the first sign of resistance.  I had a dream of writing a historical novel after I graduated from college.  In course of conducting interviews, I was chastised by man and woman who told me I had no business writing the story.  I gave up and quit.  I did not have the determination to keep going despite the resistance I met.  Are you meeting resistance to your ideas.  Don't let the opinions of others stand in the way of your dreams.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

George Eliot

Portrait by
Frederick William Burton
"The finest language is mostly made up of simple, unimposing words."

— George Eliot
English Novelist
1819 - 1880

Think simple.  Think unadorned.  Think powerful.  Sometimes we believe it's the fancy words, the longest speeches, the wildest colors that win the day.   But the truth is the simple words carry more emotion and have a greater impact.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Georgia O'Keeffe

"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way — things I had no words for."

American Painter
1887 - 1986

Sometimes words are not enough.  Words can be vague and without meaning.  Words can be phony and fake.  Words can hurt and destroy.  Words can confuse.  Have words ever failed you?  Have words ever failed to communicate what you were feeling?  Have words left you cold and alone?  Don't worship words.  They are only a tool to help us convey the thoughts of our hearts.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Paul Simon

"A song I was writing is left undone.  I don't know why I spend my time writing songs I can't believe."

American Musician
1941 -

As I write this I am listening to the songs of Simon and Garfunkel, one of my favorite groups.  Like many people, I was disappointed when they broke up.  I loved their songs which defined the world for me when I was a teenager.  I loved the lyrics.  I stopped following either musician after they broke up.  I probably should have followed Simon since he was the creative genius behind the group.  The above lyrics come from Kathy's Song, which he wrote in 1965 while in England.

Do you have any creative work left unfinished?  A painting?  A poem?  A novel?  I do.  I have a novel I spent 4 years writing, but never finished.  I also have several short stories.  These days I tend to write my poems in one sitting with little or no rewriting.

Do you believe in what you create or do you like Simon in these lyrics doubt what you have created?  Have you lost faith in your creative skills?  

Here is Simon and Garfunkel singing Kathy's Song.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Edith Wharton

"True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision."

American Novelist
1862 - 1937

What is your vision for your art?  Your writing?  Do you even have a vision?  Or do you have no idea of what you want to achieve?  When I talk about vision, I am also talking about purpose.  What is your purpose for being on this earth?  What is the reason you exist?  Why are you here?  Are you going to leave this world a better place when you pass beyond the veil?

My vision for my life is very simple:  I choose to plant seeds of hope in the hearts of others.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we will not find it."

American Poet, Speaker, Writer
1803 - 1882

People often think they are unhappy and dissatisfied because of their external circumstances.  They dream of moving to the city of their dreams, finding the ideal job, or winning the lottery.  What they don't realize is that no amount of money will make them happy if they are not happy on the inside.  Living life is an inside job.  Happiness begins with self-acceptance and belief in oneself.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

James Salter

"I decided to write or perish.  It was like starting life from scratch."

American Novelist
1925 -

Watch this video about James Salter.  How committed are you to your art?  What are you willing to sacrifice?  What are you willing to do?  What are you going to create this week?

Sunday, July 15, 2012


"Our youth now love luxury.  They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers."

Greek Philosopher
469 BC - 399 BC

I first discovered this quote on a large poster in 1968 when I was a college student.  At the time my generation was being criticized for being hippies and many said we would never amount to anything.  I learned a valuable lesson that day — every new generation is criticized by their elders and told they would never amount to anything.  And while some may die young, most grow-up and become the elders of the next generation.

The other lesson to take from this quote is to be careful about listening to critics — they often get it wrong.  Don't let the critics dominate your life and your art.  Avoid them where possible and ignore what they say if you can't.  Artists and writers have been destroyed by the critics in their lives.  Some never pick up a pen or paint brush again.  Listen to your inner voice, not the voices of your external critics.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Scott Adams

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  Art is knowing which ones to keep."

American Cartoonist
1957 -

Friday, July 13, 2012

Madeleine L"Engle

"Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such a response do we find truth."

American Writer
1918 - 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2012

John Cage

"The emotions - love, mirth, the heroic, wonder, tranquility, fear, anger, sorrow, disgust - are in the audience."

American Composer, Author and Artist
1912 - 1992

The act of creation is an emotional act.  We write because we need to express our emotions.  We paint because we need to express how we feel.  We sing because our hearts are crying.  And we connect with our audience because they too feel what we feel.  Novelists and poets fail when their work become too cerebral, too much about ideas.  Novelists are at their best when they tell a story that connects with emotions of their audiences.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Santoka Taneda

"Real haiku is the soul of poetry.  Anything that is not actually present in one's heart is not haiku."

Japanese Haiku Poet
1882 - 1940

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Harley King

"The more I try to be perfect; 
the more I fail."

— Harley King
American Poet, Speaker, Storyteller
1949 —

Much of my life, I have tried to be perfect: the perfect son, the perfect student, the perfect husband, the perfect father, the perfect writer, the perfect speaker and the perfect employee.  But I failed every time.  I have never been able to live up to the image I had myself or that others had of me.

And most people can not live up to the images that other people have of them.  I am sure that you have favorite writers or artists whose work you love.  Yet, if you ever read a biography of the person, you realize that he was not as good in his personal life as you imagined  him to be.  All our heroes have clay feet.

It has taken me years, but I have made progress.  I worry less today about being perfect.  In fact, I have learned to celebrate my failures.  And to enjoy making mistakes.  It is okay to be human.

How about you?  Are you a perfectionist?  Are you trying to live up to the image that others have you?  Or have you let go of your need to be the perfect writer?  The perfect painter?  The perfect singer?  Do you celebrate your mistakes?

And to help us celebrate this summer, here are a few of my summer haiku.

lightning bugs
    flicker in the neighbor's lawn . . .
        another June gone

at the crack of the bat
    the crowd roars to its feet . . .
        full moon tonight

family picnic —
    lightning bugs
        among the voices

heat wave —
    sharing watermelon
        with friends

a monarch lights
    on my sweat-covered arm . . .
        and is gone

Monday, July 9, 2012

Matsuo Basho

"When composing a verse let there not be a hair's breath separating your mind from what you write; composition of a poem must be done in an instant, like a woodcutter felling a huge tree or a swordsman leaping at a dangerous enemy."

Japanese Haiku Poet
1644 - 1694

The act of creation should be done with little forethought.  Too much planning can destroy the creativity.  Create in the moment.  Create in an instant.  Like the swordsman or the woodcutter, the poet does not need to think about what he creates.  He creates in the moment.  This does not mean that he has not studied or practiced his art.  Hours, days and even years may have been spent in practicing and improving his skill.  But in the moment of creation he is one with the creation.  He does not think.  He creates from the heart, not the head.  A poem composed in the head is like an empty shell.  A poem composed in the heart will touch the reader.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Norman Vincent Peale

"People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things.  When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success."

American Author, Minister
1898 - 1993

Beginning writers and artists often have doubts about their talents and abilities.  Even seasoned writers who have published multiple books may still have doubts when they begin a new book.  "Do I still have what it takes?  Can I pull it off again?"  Fear and doubt are normal responses to some new activity.  If we allow ourselves to wallow in self-doubt, we will never accomplish anything.  We must find a way to believe in ourselves and our abilities.  The secret to success is belief.  Do you believe in yourself?  What are you doing to eliminate doubt in yourself?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

"Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives . . . most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity . . . when we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life."

Hungarian Author, Psychology Professor
1934 -

One of the things that makes us unique as human beings is our creativity.  We have a desire to create something beyond ourselves — to leave something of ourselves behind.  I have often thought that if I could not write, could not express myself creatively, that I would be very depressed and may even die.  I am happiest when I am in the midst of creating something — whether that be a story, a poem or a speech.  When I am creating the ideas flow through me and I struggle to capture them all.  Some slip through my fingers like water.  Others are planted in the soil of my mind and take root.  When are you happiest?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Harper Lee

"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read.  One does not love breathing."

American Novelist
1926 -

Often we take things we do for granted and it is not until we lose them that we realize how important they were.  We do this with people and relationships.  We take them for granted until one day they are no longer in our lives.  Our ability to see is another thing we take for granted until we almost lose it.  I recently underwent cataract surgery and for the first time I came face to face with not being able to see.  

Do you take your ability to write for granted?  Harper Lee wrote and published the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, which was a commercial and critical success.  While she has since published a few essays, she never published another novel or any work of non-fiction.  And only she knows why she never finished another novel.  One could ask whether she lost her ability or desire to write.   

Do you take your ability to write for granted?  Do you take your ability to paint for granted?  How about your ability to sing?  Or act?  Or speak?  Don't take anything for granted.  Appreciate what you have.

Here are writers talking about the leading character of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Aristide Maillol

"Carving is a source of joy to the artist. . . . To attack the raw material, gradually to extract a shape out of it following one's own desire, or, sometimes, the inspiration of the material itself: this gives the sculptor great joy."

—Aristide Maillol
French Sculptor
1861 - 1944

1910 - 11
Does your creative work bring you joy?  Do you become lost in the moment?  To create something out of nothing should make you happy.  It is a gift that you have been given.  Accept the gift and enjoy it.  Enjoy the work that you do.  

Does the work you create inspire you as you are creating it?  When I am writing a story I become caught up in the moment and become excited by the ideas that are flowing through my mind.  I find joy in writing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Barbara Streisand

"I learned you have to trust yourself, be what you are, and do what you ought to do the way you should do it.  You have got to discover you, what you do, and trust it."

American Singer, Actress
1942 -

Learning to trust one's instinct is probably one of the most difficult tasks that every artist needs to learn at some point in one's career.  This trust goes deep to the very core of one's being.  Trust begins by discovering who you are and accepting yourself.  Trust comes with time and experience.  

When I speak to an audience, I have learned to trust my instincts — to listen to that small voice inside and do what it asks me to do even when I don't know why.  The times I run into problems are when I question that voice and don't listen to it.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought."

Hungarian Physiologist / Writer
1893 - 1986

This is one of my favorite quotes on creativity.  The creative person looks the world and  sees the same things as everyone else, but he thinks something different.  He puts two and two together and comes up with five.  He thinks what nobody else has thought.  What are you seeing today that you could look at in a different way?  Sometimes we need to rethink how we see things.  Are you stumped by a problem?  Take a step back and look at it from a different angle.  Explore other ways to think about the situation.  Find other solutions to the problem.

Monday, July 2, 2012

John Ruskin

John Ruskin
Painted by John Everett Millais
"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get by it, but what they become by it."

English Author / Art Critic
1819 - 1900

The pursuit of the arts is not about what we get but what we become.  While we realize that we create the paintings and the poems, what we don't realize is that the act of the creation has an impact on whom we become.  Painting changes the artist and writing changes the writer.  The art of creation allows us to workout our demons and our angels.  Some writers give too much to their writing and are destroyed by what they create.  Others find themselves in their writing and become better people.  Which are you?  Has your creative work made you a better person or has the creative process destroyed the humanity within your spirit?  Are you better today than you were a year ago?  Ten years ago?  How will you be different tomorrow?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Thomas Edison

"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."

American Inventor 
1847 - 1931

Beginning writers and artists often say they only work when they are inspired.  The result is they produce very little work.  Eventually, they either quit creating or they learn that writing and painting is more perspiration than they are inspiration.  I have read of stories of novelists who throw away the first 50 or 100 pages.  Sometimes we have to write and write until we find what we are supposed to be writing about.  Some writers write for years with nothing to show for it.  Edison, one of the greatest creative geniuses, says that creativity is 99% perspiration and only 1% inspiration.  Don't spend anymore time waiting for lightning to strike.  Paint every day even when you don't want to climb out bed.  Write every day even when you don't feel like it.