When listing the names of the best authors in the fantasy genre, every avid reader will inevitably say Neil Gaiman’s name. The 56-year-old Hampshire-born writer has penned a plethora of comic books, graphic novels, and films. He’s even dabbled in songwriting, theatre and TV shows. Regarded as one of the top ten post-modern writers, Gaiman’s bibliophile nature and journalistic background have helped him become the revered novelist he is today.
Gaiman’s most notable works include The Sandman comic series, American Gods, Stardust, Coraline, The Graveyard Book and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. He’s also social media savvy and isn’t afraid to share his knowledge and experience with the world. In fact, he has often peppered his blog with writing tips for budding authors. Although there’s a lot he has said about writing, publishing and being a writer, we’ve compiled a list of the most important ones. Here are Neil Gaiman’s pearls of wisdom:
Ideas aren’t that important. Everyone has an idea for a book, a movie or a TV show. Creating believable characters who more or less do what you want them to do is the hard part. So spend time on your characters once you’ve outlined your idea.
Put down your mobile phone and switch off your TV. Some of the best ideas can come from daydreaming, getting bored and making things up. Your mind will amuse itself once it’s sufficiently bored and come up with interesting scenarios. Everybody daydreams. The difference between an average person and a writer is that a writer notices when he or she is doing it.
If you’re having a problem coming up with a good idea, create a situation around these questions: What if, if only, I wonder, if this goes on and wouldn’t it be interesting if. This is perhaps one of the most useful writing tips from Neil Gaiman.
It’s crucial to put one word after another till you’ve finished your novel or short story. Writing shouldn’t be done only during a fit of inspiration. It has to be done every day once the idea has been formed. Finish it.
Neil Gaiman suggests sending your manuscript to all publishers in your genre. Even if your manuscript lands in the slush pile of rejected work. Keep doing it till you find someone willing to publish it. Patience is key.
Meet editors, attend conventions, join a writers group that encourages you to write, join associations and use the Internet to network, get reviews on your work and feedback from potential readers. The more people you meet, the more chances there are of someone publishing your work.
Edit your work as much as possible but don’t chase perfection. One of Gaiman’s important writing tips is to put away your short story or novel in a drawer for some time after writing it. Then, write something else. Whenever you feel ready, read your short story or novel as a reader. If you aren’t satisfied with it, fix it as a writer. Gaiman calls this revision.
Experiment with your writing. Pen something weird, eccentric or disturbing. Don’t worry about it being good or bad.
Read, read and then read some more. Moreover, Gaiman advices aspiring writers to read outside their comfort zone. For example, if you are a romance writer, read a crime novel. If you write fantasy, read philosophy.
Live life to the fullest. Real life experiences often serve as inspiration for characters and stories.
Hopefully, these handy tips have inspired you to become (who knows?) the next Neil Gaiman. Now go forth and prosper!