This observation by Sol Lewitt certainly explains most creative impulses:
The best things of mankind are as useless as Amelia Earhart’s adventure. They are the things that are undertaken not for some definite, measurable result, but because someone, not counting the costs or calculating the consequences, is moved by curiosity, the love of excellence, a point of honor, the compulsion to invent or to make or to understand. In such persons mankind overcomes the inertia which would keep it earthbound forever in its habitual ways. They have in them the free and useless energy with which alone men surpass themselves.
An excerpt from the Journal of naturalist and transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau:
Jan. 21,1838. Such is beauty ever –– neither here nor there, now nor then –– neither in Rome nor in Athens, but wherever there is a soul to admire. If I seek her elsewhere because I do not find her at home, my search will prove a fruitless one.
Comedian and filmmaker Mike Birbiglia's "Six Tips for Making It...." are spot-on - here's the final one:
6. CLEVERNESS IS OVERRATED, AND HEART IS UNDERRATED
Plus, there are fewer people competing for heart, so you have a better chance of getting noticed. Sometimes people say, “One thing you have to offer in your work is yourself.” I disagree. I think it’s the only thing.
“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to do an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.
...Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”
Reflecting on our school years with a colleague, we wished we had been less afraid of "failure" and better able to recognize it's value in the larger context of life. This is especially true in creative fields where the idea of one right answer has little relevance.
Here's an excerpt from a Seth Godin blog post that nicely sums up our conclusions:
Don't curse the dead ends and the failures. They're the key element of the work you're doing. We find our way by getting lost. Anything other than that is called reading a map.
Enjoyed this provocative observation by author and artist William Blake:
The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way... [S]ome scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself. As a man is, so he sees.