“The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”
“Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”
“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.”
My sister Steph loved Neil Gaiman’s novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which won the National Book Award. I’ve also heard raves about his children’s story, The Graveyard Book, which garnered a Newbery. Our boy Neil is not only an award-winning author, he’s also prolific and protean. He’s written short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, and screenplays. In an online interview he offered some inspiring advice on writing:
Where ideas come from: Desperation, deadlines, daydreaming. Ideas often turn up while you’re doing something else. Confluence is a big factor: two things flowing together and converging can trigger an idea. Everyone gets ideas all the time, but most people let them slip away. As writers we “train ourselves to notice when we get an idea” — when we find or hit upon something that might be mined.
First drafts: Neil likes to write by hand in notebooks, because until he puts his work on the computer, it’s “not real” and somehow, “it doesn’t matter,” so it takes the pressure off and frees him up. As he puts it, “No one really cares about your first draft but you. Whatever you’re doing can be fixed.” So get it down and see what you have.
Read outside your comfort zone: Whatever the genre you want to focus on, make it a point to read outside of it. When you read widely, you get ideas, you make connections, you see fresh angles. “Go and learn things” — it will make you a stronger writer.
Tell your story your way: “There are better writers, smarter writers than you. But you are the only you — so start telling the stories that only you can tell.”
Bravo, Neil — write on!