Goodreads helps you follow your favorite authors. Be the first to learn about new releases!
Start by following Brenda Ueland.

Brenda Ueland Brenda Ueland > Quotes


Brenda Ueland quotes Showing 1-30 of 63

“Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express.”
Brenda Ueland
“When Van Gogh was a young man in his early twenties, he was in London studying to be a clergyman. He had no thought of being an artist at all. he sat in his cheap little room writing a letter to his younger brother in Holland, whom he loved very much. He looked out his window at a watery twilight, a thin lampost, a star, and he said in his letter something like this: "it is so beautiful I must show you how it looks." And then on his cheap ruled note paper, he made the most beautiful, tender, little drawing of it.

When I read this letter of Van Gogh's it comforted me very much and seemed to throw a clear light on the whole road of Art. Before, I thought that to produce a work of painting or literature, you scowled and thought long and ponderously and weighed everything solemnly and learned everything that all artists had ever done aforetime, and what their influences and schools were, and you were extremely careful about *design* and *balance* and getting *interesting planes* into your painting, and avoided, with the most astringent severity, showing the faintest *acedemical* tendency, and were strictly modern. And so on and so on.

But the moment I read Van Gogh's letter I knew what art was, and the creative impulse. It is a feeling of love and enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way, you try to show this beauty in things to others, by drawing it.

And Van Gogh's little drawing on the cheap note paper was a work of art because he loved the sky and the frail lamppost against it so seriously that he made the drawing with the most exquisite conscientiousness and care. ”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“The imagination needs moodling,--long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering. ”
Brenda Ueland
“I learned...that inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.”
Brenda Ueland
“In fact that is why the lives of most women are so vaguely unsatisfactory. They are always doing secondary and menial things (that do not require all their gifts and ability) for others and never anything for themselves. Society and husbands praise them for it (when they get too miserable or have nervous breakdowns) though always a little perplexedly and half-heartedly and just to be consoling. The poor wives are reminded that that is just why wives are so splendid -- because they are so unselfish and self-sacrificing and that is the wonderful thing about them! But inwardly women know that something is wrong. They sense that if you are always doing something for others, like a servant or nurse, and never anything for yourself, you cannot do others any good. You make them physically more comfortable. But you cannot affect them spiritually in any way at all. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself. [...]"If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say; 'Mother is working on her five-act tragedy in blank verse!' you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably all become playwrights.”
Brenda Ueland
“The only good teachers for you are those friends who love you, who think you are interesting, or very important, or wonderfully funny; whose attitude is:
"Tell me more. Tell me all you can. I want to understand more about everything you feel and know and all the changes inside and out of you. Let more come out."

And if you have no such friend,--and you want to write,--well, then you must imagine one. ”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten - happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another. ”
Brenda Ueland
“Everybody is original, if he tells the truth, if he speaks from himself. But it must be from his *true* self and not from the self he thinks he *should* be. ”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“No writing is a waste of time – no creative work where the feelings, the imagination, the intelligence must work. With every sentence you write, you have learned something. It has done you good.”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“Don't always be appraising yourself, wondering if you are better or worse than other writers. "I will not Reason and Compare," said Blake; "my business is to Create." Besides, since you are like no other being ever created since the beginning of Time, you are incomparable. ”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“Yes, I hate orthodox criticism. I don't mean great criticism, like that of Matthew Arnold and others, but the usual small niggling, fussy-mussy criticism, which thinks it can improve people by telling them where they are wrong, and results only in putting them in straitjackets of hesitancy and self-consciousness, and weazening all vision and bravery.

...I hate it because of all the potentially shining, gentle, gifted people of all ages, that it snuffs out every year. It is a murderer of talent. And because the most modest and sensitive people are the most talented, having the most imagination and sympathy, these are the very first ones to get killed off. It is the brutal egotists that survive.”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“...at last I understood that writing was this: an impulse to share with other people a feeling or truth that I myself had.”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“Work freely and rollickingly as though you were talking to a friend who loves you. Mentally (at least three or four times a day) thumb your nose at all know-it-alls, jeerers, critics, doubters.”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“If I did not wear torn pants, orthopedic shoes, frantic disheveled hair, that is to say, if I did not tone down my beauty, people would go mad. Married men would run amuck.”
Brenda Ueland
tags: humor
“...writing is not a performance but a generosity.”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“(about William Blake)

As for Blake's happiness--a man who knew him said: "If asked whether I ever knew among the intellectual, a happy man, Blake would be the only one who would immediately occur to me."

And yet this creative power in Blake did not come from ambition. ...He burned most of his own work. Because he said, "I should be sorry if I had any earthly fame, for whatever natural glory a man has is so much detracted from his spiritual glory. I wish to do nothing for profit. I wish to live for art. I want nothing whatever. I am quite happy."

...He did not mind death in the least. He said that to him it was just like going into another room. On the day of his death he composed songs to his Maker and sang them for his wife to hear. Just before he died his countenance became fair, his eyes brightened and he burst into singing of the things he saw in heaven. ”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“But the great artists like Michelangelo and Blake and Tolstoi--like Christ whom Blake called an artist because he had one of the most creative imaginations that ever was on earth--do not want security, egoistic or materialistic. Why, it never occurs to them. "Be not anxious for the morrow," and "which of you being anxious can add one cubit to his stature?"

So they dare to be idle, i.e. not to be pressed and duty-driven all the time. They dare to love people even when they are very bad, and they dare not to try and dominate others to show them what they must do for their own good. ”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“Creative power flourishes only when I am living in the present.”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“Inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic energy striving, but it comes to us slowly and quietly and all the time.”
Brenda Ueland
“Remember William Blake who said: "Improvement makes straight, straight roads, but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius."

The truth is, life itself, is always startling, strange, unexpected. But when the truth is told about it everybody knows at once that it is life itself and not made up.

But in ordinary fiction, movies, etc, everything is smoothed out to seem plausible--villains made bad, heroes splendid, heroines glamorous, and so on, so that no one believes a word”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“We have come to think that duty should come first. I disagree. Duty should be a by-product. Writing, the creative effort, the use of the imagination, should come first – at least, for some part of every day of your life. It is a wonderful blessing if you use it. You will become happier, more enlightened, alive, impassioned, light-hearted and generous to everybody else. Even your health will improve. Colds will disappear and all the other ailments of discouragement and boredom.”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“Families are great murderers of the creative impulsive, particularly husbands.”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“(about William Blake)

[Blake] said most of us mix up God and Satan. He said that what most people think is God is merely prudence, and the restrainer and inhibitor of energy, which results in fear and passivity and "imaginative death."

And what we so often call "reason" and think is so fine, is not intelligence or understanding at all, but just this: it is arguing from our *memory* and the sensations of our body and from the warnings of other people, that if we do such and such a thing we will be uncomfortable. "It won't pay." "People will think it is silly." "No one else does it." "It is immoral."

But the only way you can grow in understanding and discover whether a thing is good or bad, Blake says, is to do it. "Sooner strangle an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires."

For this "Reason" as Blake calls it (which is really just caution) continually nips and punctures and shrivels the imagination and the ardor and the freedom and the passionate enthusiasm welling up in us. It is Satan, Blake said. It is the only enemy of God. "For nothing is pleasing to God except the invention of beautiful and exalted things." And when a prominent citizen of his time, a logical, opining, erudite, measured, rationalistic, Know-it-all, warned people against "mere enthusiasm," Blake wrote furiously (he was a tender-hearted, violent and fierce red-haired man): "Mere enthusiasm is the All in All!”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“Everyone knows how people who laugh easily create us by their laughter,--making us think of funnier and funnier things.”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“Everyone is talented, original and has something important to say.”
Brenda Ueland
“When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life.”
Brenda Ueland
“I will tell you what I have learned myself. For me, a long five- or six-mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day. I have done this for many years. It is at these times I seem to get re-charged. If I do not walk one day, I seem to have on the next what van Gogh calls "the meagerness.""The meagerness," he said, "or what is called depression." After a day or two of not walking, when I try to write I feel a little dull and irresolute. For a long time I thought that the dullness was just due to the asphyxiation of an indoor, sedentary life (which all people who do not move around a great deal in the open air suffer from, though they do not know it).”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“The only way to write well, so that people believe what we say and are interested or touched by it, is to slough off all pretentiousness and attitudinizing.”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“...the best way to know the Truth or Beauty is to try to express it. And what is the purpose of existence Here or Yonder but to discover truth and beauty and express it, i.e., share it with others?”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
“There is that American pastime known as "kidding" - with the result that everyone is ashamed and hangdog about showing the slightest enthusiasm or passion or sincere feeling about anything.”
Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

« previous 1 3

All Quotes | Add A Quote


If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit If You Want to Write
7,477 ratings
Me: A Memoir Me
66 ratings
If You Want to Write If You Want to Write
34 ratings
Open Preview