Finding the will to create when everything feels like it’s falling apart


A lot of people are feeling pain, frustration, and anger right now. And that’s okay. We need to feel these things. While strong emotions sometimes fuel creativity, it can also stunt it. I’ve collected quotes from books lying around my house, quotes about finding hope, rediscovering creativity, and why creativity is needed when things look the bleakest. Feel free to leave quotes, ideas, poems, etc. that help you in the comments.


Anne Lamott in the essay “Writer’s Block,” From Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

“The problem is acceptance, which is something we’re taught not to do. We’re taught to improve uncomfortable situations, to change things, alleviate unpleasant feelings. But if you accept the reality that you have been given—that you are not in a productive creative period—you free yourself to begin filling up again.”

Expansion | Bronze with Electricity by Paige Bradley Click on the picture to see her other amazing sculptures
Expansion | Bronze with Electricity by Paige Bradley. Click on the picture to see more of her amazing art.

Viktor E. Frankle, From Man’s Search for Meaning

“We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed.”


Jean-Paul Sartre, From Existentialism Is a Humanism

“When we say that man chooses himself, not only do we mean that each of us must choose himself, but also that in choosing himself, he is choosing for all men. In fact, in creating the man each of us wills ourselves to be, there is not a single one of our actions that does not at the same time create an image of man as we think he ought to be….What art and morality have in common is creation and invention….This is humanism because we remind man that there is no legislature other than himself and that he must, in his abandoned state, make his own choices, and also because we show that it is not by turning inward, but by constantly seeking a goal outside of himself in the form of liberation, or of some special achievement, that man will realize himself as truly human.”


Clarissa Pinkola Estés, From Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

“Stories set the inner life into motion, and this is particularly important where the inner life is frightened, wedged, or cornered. Story greases the hoists and pulleys, it causes adrenaline to surge, shows us the way out, down, or up, and for our trouble, cuts us fine wide doors in previously blank walls, openings that lead to the dreamland, that lead to love and learning, that lead us back to our own real lives as knowing wildish women.”

Passage (2007) by Cornelia Konrads. Again, I've linked to her portfolio.
Passage (2007) by Cornelia Konrads. Again, I’ve linked to her amazing portfolio.

Marina Warner, From From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers

“Storytelling can act to face objects of derision or fear and sometimes—not always—inspire tolerance and even fellow-feeling; it can realign allegiances and remap terrors. Storytellers can also break through the limits of permitted thought to challenge conventions; fairy tales, I have argued in this book, offer a way of putting questions, of testing the structure as well as guaranteeing its safety, of thinking up alternatives as well as living daily reality in an examined way…[The fairy tale] offers magical metamorphoses to the one who opens the door, who passes on what was found there, and to those who hear what the storyteller brings. The faculty of wonder, like curiosity, can make things happen; it is time for wishful thinking to have its due.”


Ursula Le Guin in the essay “A War without End,” From The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination

“To me the important thing is not to offer any specific hope of betterment but, by offering an imagined but persuasive alternative to reality, to dislodge my mind, and so the reader’s mind, from the lazy, timorous habit of thinking that the way we live now is the only way people can live. It is the inertia that allows the institutions of injustice to continue unquestioned…We will not know our own injustice if we cannot imagine justice. We will not be free if we do not imagine freedom. We cannot demand that anyone try to attain justice and freedom who has not had a chance to imagine them as attainable.”


Mary Oliver, From Why I Wake Early: New Poems

Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does It End?

There are things you can’t reach. But
You can reach out to them, and all day long.

The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of God.

And it can keep you as busy as anything else, and happier.

The snake slides away; the fish jumps, like a little lily,
Out of the water and back in; the goldfinches sing
from the unreachable top of the tree.

I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.

Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
   as though with your arms open.
And thinking: maybe something will come, some
   shining coil of wind,
   or a few leaves from any old tree—
      they are all in this too.
And now I will tell you the truth.
Everything in the world

At least, closer.

And, cordially.

Like the nibbling, tinsel-eyed fish; the unlooping snake.
Like goldfinches, little dolls of gold
fluttering around the corner of the sky

of God, the blue air.

Andy Goldsworthy.
Andy Goldsworthy. Needs no introduction.

Lao Tzu, From the Tao Te Ching


Thirty spokes
Share one hub.
Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand, and you
will have the use of the cart. Knead clay in order to make a
vessel. Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand,
and you will have the use of the vessel. Cut out doors and
windows in order to make a room. Adapt the nothing
therein to the purpose in hand, and you will have the use
of the room.
Thus what we gain is Something, yet it is by virtue of
Nothing that this can be put to use.

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