Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

Ideas Aren’t the Hard Bit, But Require Boredom

In a recent essay on his website, Neil Gaiman rails about the too-frequent question his fans ask: Where do your ideas come from?

Neil Gaiman

Firstly, Neil explains, people don’t like his explanation that he makes them up, “Out of my head”. But more importantly, ideas are not the “hard bit”.

“They’re a small component of the whole. Creating believable people who do more or less what you tell them to is much harder. And hardest by far is the process of simply sitting down and putting one word after another to construct whatever it is you’re trying to build: making it interesting, making it new.”

Then Gaiman was faced with the question posed during a talk with his 7-year-old daughter’s class. This time he decided to answer it as fully as possible.

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it…You get ideas when you ask yourself simple questions. The most important of the questions is just, What if…?”

“You get ideas from being bored…The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”

We provide lots of opportunities for budding writers to learn and to write. I wonder, though: is there opportunity  for boredom in this connected culture?

Gaiman goes on to list and illustrate the many questions that spark ideas in the full essay: Where do you get your ideas?

See Gaiman’s booklist on Goodreads.

Via Open Culture

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Filed under Books, Authors & Illustrators, Education

Author’s Impassioned Plea for Citizen Action on Libraries & Reading

The following are exerpts from an edited version of Neil Gaiman‘s lecture for the Reading Agency, delivered on Monday October 14 at the Barbican in London. “Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming: A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens.”

Read the full text at The Guardian.

Neil Gaiman

“Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive…

“Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian “improving” literature. You’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant…

“And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed…

“…our children and our grandchildren are less literate and less numerate than we are. They are less able to navigate the world, to understand it to solve problems. They can be more easily lied to and misled, will be less able to change the world in which they find themselves, be less employable…

“We all – adults and children, writers and readers – have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine….”

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Filed under Books, Authors & Illustrators, Education, Reading