To create is to cause something to exist by one’s actions. Creativity and the creative process are about taking original ideas, inspired from imagination, and then producing something new. To be creative means to generate original ideas and possibilities that will, when applied, be useful, entertaining, or beautiful, or otherwise worthwhile. What part discipline and spontaneity play in creativity are matters of debate. Artists and thinkers have tried to put into words what creativity is about. Here are some of those words.

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One of the first things a relationship therapist learns is that couples argue to burn up energy that could be used for something else. In fact, arguments often serve the purpose of using up energy, so that the couple do not have to take the courageous, creative leap into an unknown they fear. Arguing serves the function of being a zone of familiarity into which you can retreat when you are afraid of making a creative breakthrough.

— Gay Hendricks

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.

— George Bernard Shaw

Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.

— Henri Matisse

The world is but a canvas to the imagination.

— Henry David Thoreau

Poetry is man’s rebellion against being what he is.

— James Branch Cabell

We tend to think of the Faustian man, the one who fabricates, manipulates, seduces and ends up destroying. But the new image will be man the creator, the artist, the player.

— Jean Houston

If you want to be creative, stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society.

— Jean Piaget

I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.

— John Cage

If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.

— John Cleese

The real magic wand is the child’s own mind.

— José Ortega y Gasset

When men are easy in their circumstances, they are naturally enemies to innovations.

— Joseph Addison

In every human being there is a child who only wants to play, and the most attractive game is mystery. The mysterious content of the human soul wanders through the meandering corridors of a mythical labyrinth, with underground congregations with candles (or illuminated by candles), secret passages in the double walls of castles, and treasures hidden in the halls!

— Kurt Seligmann

Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.

— Kurt Vonnegut

Playtime is a vital component of idea generation and fresh inspiration. It gives you permission to be in a state of discovery without purpose or agenda.

— Leena Patel, Raise Your Innovation IQ

Art does not solve problems but makes us aware of their existence. It opens our eyes to see and our brain to imagine.

— Magdalena Abakanowicz

Thou art greatly wise, my friend, and ever respected by me, yet I find not in your theory or your scope, room enough for the lyric inspirations, or the mysterious whispers of life. To me it seems that it is madder never to abandon oneself, than often to be infatuated; better to be wounded, a captive, and a slave, than always to walk in armor.

— Margaret Fuller, Free Hope

Imagination does not become great until human beings, given the courage and the strength, use it to create.

— Maria Montessori

When I was five, I think, that’s when I started wanting to be an actress. I loved to play. I didn’t like the world around me because it was kind of grim, but I loved to play house. It was like you could make your own boundaries.

— Marilyn Monroe

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

For every failure, there’s an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.

— Mary Kay Ash

Invention hovers always a little above the rules.

— Mary Oliver

Does it not appear to you versatility is the true and rare characteristic of that rare thing called genius — versatility and playfulness? In my mind they are both essential.

— Mary Russell Mitford

Preconceived notions are the locks on the door to wisdom.

— Merry Browne

We need to build millions of little moments of caring on an individual level. Indeed, as talk of a politics of meaning becomes more widespread, many people will feel it easier to publicly acknowledge their own spiritual and ethical aspirations and will allow themselves to give more space to their highest vision in their personal interactions with others. A politics of meaning is as much about these millions of small acts as it is about any larger change. The two necessarily go hand in hand.

— Michael Lerner

A positive mind finds a way it can be done; a negative mind looks for all the ways it can’t be done.

— Napoleon Hill

There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.

— Pablo Picasso

Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got.

— Philip José Farmer

A painter told me that nobody could draw a tree without in some sort becoming a tree; or draw a child by studying the outlines of its form merely . . . but by watching for a time his motions and plays, the painter enters into his nature and can then draw him at every attitude . . .

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson
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