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12 Inspirational Women On How They Get Their Best Ideas

With International Women's Day just around the corner, we hear some words of wisdom from some of the art and literary world's most famous and inspirational women.


Annie Leibovitz

“I do my homework. When I was preparing to photograph Carla Bruni, the wife of Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, in the Élysée Palace, I looked at pictures of the palace. I looked at pictures of other people who had lived in the palace. Pictures of couples in love. Pictures that other photographers had taken of Bruni. She had been photographed many times before. I thought Helmut Newton had seen something in her that other photographers hadn’t. I knew she was a popular musician, and I listened to her music.” - As told to Artspace, January 2019


Shonda Rhimes

“I never put pen to paper to write the script or book or anything until I really know what I’m going to write. And then the writing is quick: Sometimes it can take a year of me thinking, and I can then write a script in three days. ‘It’s never, I took six months to write this script, or I took six months to write this book.’ It’s all happening inside my brain … There’s a moment when I can’t not talk about it anymore. I can’t not write about it anymore. I’m sitting in story meetings for other things, thinking, why am I talking about this when I should be talking about that. My brain is just excited to tell that story.” – As told toThrive Global, November 2017


Phoebe Waller-Bridge

“[At the end of Fleabag] I was like, ‘God, it’s been amazing, but I’m never going to have another idea,’ and then I went to sleep. I woke up and I had this idea for this movie in my head. I’ll be in the shower and suddenly it’ll be like, ‘I should go and write that down.’ It’s very strange, which probably means it’s going to be awful.” — As told to Deadline, June 2019


Judy Blume

“Ideas seem to come from everywhere — my life, everything I see, hear, and read, and most of all, from my imagination. I have a LOT of imagination … I keep a notebook and jot down everything that comes to mind about characters and places and anything else. That notebook is my security blanket. That way I never feel alone with a blank page or a blank screen … Observe. Make notes. Listen carefully. Listen to how people talk to one another. A good writer is always a people-watcher.” —  As told to Scholastic


Grace Coddington

“I think you have to live a little bit more in the moment and appreciate and see. It is what I’ve always done in my life — just look at where I am. That’s why I love going on the subway in the morning. There are so many wonderful people on the subway. I’m often sad that I only live three stops away from the office in Times Square, because I’m usually just working out who that crazy person is in the corner when I have to get off.” —  As told to Interview, November 2012


Dolly Parton

“My favourite thing, if I have the time, is to take a couple weeks and take off and go somewhere to just write songs. That’s not as apt to happen these days as it was in the past, but I can write songs anywhere. I always keep a notepad by my bed at night and a tape recorder. I’ve always got a notepad everywhere. I do my best thinking when I’m traveling. I can write anywhere, and I never know when a song is gonna hit me. I write a little bit of something every day. Either an idea or a title, a few lines. If I’m lucky, I can write a few songs in a week.” —As told to Rookie, November 2017


Carine Roitfeld

“Lots of people, they feel anxious because they think I’m judging them. No! I’m just looking, observing what they’re wearing, what they’re doing, because my inspiration comes from the street, from other people. You know, I’m just curious and I have a good sense of observation. And I can immediately transform this observation into ideas for fashion. That’s always how I work. I’m not going to books, I’m not going to reference a vintage shop. I’m not going to the past. I’m most inspired by what’s happening around me.” — As told to The Cut, June 2019


Mindy Kaling

“I will never let myself now sit in front of a blank screen. I’ll always sit down with an idea or something to say. Sometimes, I’m scrambling to open it so I can get an idea down, because I hate the blank page so much.” — As told toParade, June 2019


Amy Poehler

“What I have discovered is this: You can’t do it alone. As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” — As said in her Harvard Class Day Speech, May 2011


Dontella Versace

“Well, my muse changes all the time because I think every designer is a bit of a muse for themselves in a way — they just don’t want to say it … But as a designer, you always take facets of different people and you mix them together with your own thoughts and information and creativity and passion — because I think fashion has a lot to do with passion — and that’s where you get your inspiration.” —  As told to Interview, November 2011


Maya Angelou

“I do still keep a hotel room in my hometown, and pay for it by the month. I go around 6:30 in the morning. I have a bedroom, with a bed, a table, and a bath. I have Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, and the Bible … I have all the paintings and any decoration taken out of the room. I ask the management and housekeeping not to enter the room, just in case I’ve thrown a piece of paper on the floor, I don’t want it discarded. About every two months I get a note slipped under the door: ‘Dear Ms. Angelou, please let us change the linen. We think it may be moldy!’ But I’ve never slept there, I’m usually out of there by 2. And then I go home and I read what I’ve written that morning, and I try to edit then. Clean it up. And that’s how I write books!” —  As told to The Daily Beast, April 2013


Marie Kondo

“I drink multiple cups of tea a day … After I’ve accomplished a few things or start to feel tired, I’ll get up and make another cup. I probably have about 15 different kinds of tea in my cupboard at any given time. I usually have herb tea when I wake up in the morning, green tea with breakfast, black tea in the afternoon, and herb tea again in the evening.” — As told to The Cut, March 2018