When we were first designing Improvised Life, we were inspired by this now-famous set of rules by silkscreen artist and renown educator, Sister Corita Kent, for an art class she taught.  They speak directly to the process of creating…ANYTHING. We especially love these:

Find a place you trust and then try trusting it for a while.

Consider everything as an experiment.

Nothing is a mistake. There’s no Win and no Fail. There’s only Make.

The only rule is work. If you work, it will lead to something…

Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

In Rule 10, Kent quotes this beauty by John Cage:

We’re breaking all of the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.


“This Moment” by Sister Corita Kent, corita.org


John Cage would appropriate Kent’s rules for his own teaching, calling them 10 Rules for Students and Teachers. His lover and collaborator Merce Cunningham posted them on the wall of his dance studio.

Cage removed his name from Rule 10, and changed X quantities in Kent’s to X qualities.

John Cage after Sister Corita Kent via More Dark than Shark archive


We don’t know if Sister Corita Kent and John Cage knew each other or simply knew of each other. No matter. They formed a kind of collaboration in their viewpoint about the creative process that has influenced many. Their powerful rules are still reverberating through Improvised Life…as we continue to leave plenty of room for X qualities…

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2 replies on “10 Enduring Rules for the Creative Life (Sister Corita Kent + John Cage)

  1. Wow! Thank you!! These are amazing – I’m going to hang them on my wall today.

  2. Such a shame that these man of the avant guard didn’t think it was necessary to acknowledge the true source of this piece of writing – it being published as John Cages words. The underrepresentation of women artists in the writing of history is closely linked to women (still) rarely being quoted as artistic and intellectual influence by their male colleagues.

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