A great idea cannot exist in isolation. The ability to slice bread was useless before the preservatives were invented that kept bread from hardening within minutes. The color copier had no value before color printing was commonplace.
Each great idea builds on the ideas of innovators who came beforehand. That is perhaps why we’re so fascinated by the thinking of creative giants. We want to get into their heads, we want to think like they do—so we can have ideas as incredible as theirs.
Below I’ve compiled a list of my favorite quotes on creativity—from the people who inspire me to think of better ideas. Some are about the determination it takes to finally have an amazing idea. Others are about trying, failing and rising again. Others are about getting started, or about inspiring others to get behind your idea.
28 Creativity Quotes That Inspire Me to Put on My Thinking Cap
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
– John Quincy Adams
Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.
– Coco Chanel
If you have time to judge other people you have way too much time on your hands. Get off your ass and do something meaningful.
– Shane Gibson
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.
– Jack Kerouac
Inspiration comes and goes, creativity is the result of practice.
– Phil Cousineau
Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.
– William Faulkner
You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.
– André Gide
Mistakes are the portals of discovery
– James Joyce
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.
– Mary Anne Radmacher
Only those that risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
– T.S. Eliot
It always seems impossible until it’s done.
– Nelson Mandela
The grass is greener where you water it.
– Neil Barringham
Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.
– Henry David Thoreau
Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
– Francis of Assisi
If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
– Antoine De Saint Exupery
The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.
– John Maynard Keynes
A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.
– Charles Brower
It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.
– Edward de Bono
An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.
– Victor Hugo
A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.
– John F. Kennedy
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!
– Audrey Hepburn
You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
– Maya Angelou
Listen to anyone with an original idea, no matter how absurd it may sound at first. If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need.
– William McKnight, 3M President
Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.
– John Steinbeck
Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.
I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.
– John Cage
You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’
– George Bernard Shaw