Brenda Ueland had a lot to say about creativity; in fact, she herself was an inexhaustible fountain of ideas. As a writer, and a journalist, teacher and editor, she never lacked for influences.
Happily I have her breakout book on writing, If You Want to Write: a Book about Art, Independence and Spirit (1938) on my writing bookshelf, snuggled amidst its comrades, Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott), Escaping Into the Open (Elizabeth Berg), Writing Down the Bones (Natalie Goldberg), On Writing Well (William Zinssler), The Sound of Paper, Vein of Gold, The Artist’s Way (Julia Cameron), Writing Tools (Roy Peter Clark), The Elements of Style (William Strunk) No Plot, No Problem (Chris Baty), Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words (Bill Bryson), The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Novels (Tom Monteleone) (what possessed me?) and A Coney Island of the Mind (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)—my well-worn 1967 treasure and inspiration.
“Everyone is talented, original, and has something important to say”
In If You Want to Write, Ueland shares her thoughts on writing, and as any observant writer would, on life in general. Her contention that “Everyone is talented, original, and has something important to say” was more than enough to propel me into the writing life, much later in life; and her book is the one I turn to when I’m looking for tidy little nuggets of inspiration (like the one I hand-lettered above).
Brenda Ueland’s wisdom may have come from her self-described wealth of lovers (numerous) and husbands (three), and it may have come from the fountain within. I suspect she would say the latter, if we could ask her (she lived long, from 1891-1985). Her longevity may have come from her love of practicing handstands, or from that marvelous inexhaustible fountain of ideas within. Or some combination thereof. ♣
What’s on your inspiration bookshelf?
I keep my most inspiring books on my writers’ shelf and my iPad, my ideas in a lot of places, and I round them all up HERE. You can find inspiration in more of Brenda Ueland’s quotes at Goodreads. Want to learn more about my upcoming novel? Subscribe HERE. For more on the art of writing, look HERE. Stroll through my art prints and paintings HERE. Or just find some inspiration among 45 quotes on writing, art and creativity, HERE. And all of my inspiration ends up HERE.
I actually do have a bookshelf of inspirations. I have books I love on sewing, writing, and favorites like The Time Traveler’s Wife. I also have some photos, trinkets, ticket stubs, and boxes and jars full of memories. My studio can be a little overwhelming for some because I find that I like to be surrounded by things that spark creativity. Great article!
Glad you enjoyed it, Crysta, it’s nice to hear how other artists stay inspired. Thanks for commenting. Sounds like your studio would make for a good photo essay of the details you’ve described.
That’s a really cool idea. One of these days I am going to have to do that one of these days soon!