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