Creative Writing Lessons: Bestselling, award winning author Neil Gaiman on writing

Neal just an inquiry are wondering where if you're feeling it particularly at a creative low point where you get your inspiration from to come up with such amazing tales and amazing subject matter to write your stories about um what you've actually done there is ask the question that must not be asked of writers you've rephrased it ever so slightly but what you fundamentally does say where do you get your ideas and writers are awful to people who ask us where we get their ideas we we get mean we don't just get mean we get mean in a writer II way which means we'll make fun of you and and we do that not afraid and the reason we do that is because we don't really know and we terrified the ideas will go away so every writer I know has a funny answer and and you know Harlan Ellison used to say that he got them from a little idea shop in Schenectady and your writer who when asked would say he gets them from the idea of the Month Club and people go really here's all yeah every month they send you an idea the truth is I think armed for me inspiration comes from a bunch of places desperation deadlines a lot of times ideas will turn up while you're doing something else and most of all I think ideas come from confluence they come from two things flowing together they come from essentially from daydreaming it's that point and I suspect it's something that every human being does writers aim to train themselves to notice when they've had an idea it's not that they have any more ideas or get inspired more than anything else we just we just notice when it happens a little bit more but you're just thinking you you go well you know everybody knows that that if you get bitten by a werewolf when the moon is full you will turn into a wolf you know that there's that moment where you're sitting thinking so what happens if a werewolf bites a goldfish and or that moment where you start thinking well actually what happens if a werewolf sinks its fangs into a chair and what if you're sitting in that chair and the moonlight touches it and slowly it starts feeling more and more wolfish and then it growls and and you know and then what about the oh my god and then then you'd have to set it in the winter because you'd need the snow for people to try and figure out why you got chair leg marks in the snow by the body that's had its throat ripped out and and suddenly you have a story so that's so a lot of it is daydreaming I wish there was something I always feel I'm in some ways disappointing people when they ask where do you get your inspiration because what they really always want is the answer they want you to be able to say well what you do is 11:58 at night go down to the cellar you roll the goat bones there'll be a banging on the door it will open this thing will fly in it will explode you'll have a something like a chocolate you eat it you have an idea I don't know you make him out out of your head do you believe the things he write about or is it pure fiction for you um I'm I've never been convinced that there's such a wonderfully clear-cut dichotomy between the two things when you start writing um you're on a profession which involves making stuff up and inventing stuff you're making up people you're making up places you're talking about things that manifestly aren't true and if you're doing it right you're using all of these fictions all of these lines all of these made-up things to say true things so and true things that you can believe and true things that you can stand behind so I never feel that it's it's as clear-cut as fiction in fact if it works you are creating fiction to make truth kristinia Ruttenberg do you think that the fantasy fiction genre will become so heavy with all the stories about vampires werewolves fed people and the likes that publishers will finally become fed up and not want to accept anymore will they start to lean towards more realistic stories and away from the mysticism and fantasy of what is currently very very popular well the seesaw of pop culture tip or the up and coming fantasy writers into the water before we get a chance yes it definitely will um actually made it you know there was a point in the 1980s when particularly for a young adult fiction and children's fiction fantasy was was completely unfashionable and very much disliked genres come and genres go when I was a kid if you walked around the big bookshop you would run into the cowboy section of the book track and I don't have seen a cowboy section the book shop now and over thirty years the horror sections of many book shops were closed out about ten years ago when they decided that horror really wasn't selling in the way that it had during the big horrible and I was talking to a man who worked in a bookshop who was telling about having to decide whether they went into the thriller section or whether they went into the fantasy section um so yeah genres come as your honors go and yes people will get retired of of whatever is fashionable today and they will want something new tomorrow as a writer that's not a bad thing all it means is write what you care about write what you're interested in write what matters to you and write it as well as you can and it will probably find its audience and that has nothing to do with fashion that has to do with with quality of the story but the things that will be much harder to publish are the second-rate knockoffs of of stuff you know a great fact a great vampire novel will be published whether there's a glass of vampires whether vampires become so unfashionable as to be unpublishable but but that's always true of a great book a great book Lords be published last question do you think robots will take over the human race do I think robots will take over the human race I'm so glad you asked that I'm so very very glad you asked me that question because I've been sitting here the whole time thinking I wonder if at some point somebody in the audience is going to go our robots going to take over hang on I just want a quick shout out who was it actually aren't asked the question because somebody has to say me because okay are you worried about this okay let me put your mind at ease as a best-selling and would winning author I can categorically say that robots will not take over the human race you go I believe that it is difficult to kill what an idea because my dears are invisible and contagious and they move fast I believe that you can set your own ideas against ideas it is like that you should be free to argue explain clarify debate offend insult range mark saying dramatized and deny I do not believe them burn murderer exploding people smashing lands with rocks to let the bad ideas out drowning them or EB defeating will work containing ideas who do not like ideas but you don't expect them like boots and are as difficult to control I believe that were pressing ideas spreads ideas I believe the people and books news madness containers for ideas but the burning of people will be as unsuccessful as firebombing the newspaper archives it is already too late it is always too late the ideas are how tight my peoples waiting in their thoughts they can be whispered they can be written on walls in the dead of night they can be drawn I believe that ideas do not have to be correct to exist I believe you have every right to perfectly serve the images of God or prophet or man a sacred and undefiled just as I have the right to be certain of the sacredness of speech at the sanctity the right demarc comment to argue and to utter I believe I have the right to think and say the wrong things I believe you're running for that should be to argue with me also ignore me and that I should have the same remedy for the wrong things that you think I believe that you have the absolute right to think things that I find offensive stupid preposterous or dangerous and if you have the right to speak write or distribute these things and I do not have the right to kill you mainly hurt you or take away your liberty or property because I find your ideas threatening or insulting or downright disgusting you probably think some of my ideas are pretty viable too I believe in the battle between governments and ideas ideas well eventually win because the ideas are invisible and they linger and sometimes they even true ever see and yet it still moves

44 thoughts on “Creative Writing Lessons: Bestselling, award winning author Neil Gaiman on writing

  1. I'd like to ask, how many authoritarian regimes can this civilization stomach befor there's a meaningfull sacking, and what is lituratures second barrel down the throat of this manically, misguided monster thinking its conserving duty is harm itself; the first being the printing press and the following Enlightenment.

  2. At certain times ideas flow fast through my mind and I feel an absolute "have to" write, but I am so busy and cannot stop to write. It's a beastly feeling. I have books flowing most of the time. We'll, I have written some but it's only a drop in the bucket. Help?

  3. The best way to get past writer's block is to take a hike/walk in nature, even if it may not be related to the plot of your story.

  4. Great video, particularly the final part on ideas and free thought. Truly wise words.
    The question of ideas is often posed to creative people, (writers, designers, artists, etc), and it is very difficult to answer, but I really like his response.
    However, I am now haunted by the idea for a murder-mystery where a body is found in the middle of the Ozarks, inexplicably seated in a finely crafted, antique chair…

  5. You know you're a writer when he says what happens when a werewolf bites a goldfish.Everyone is laughing and you're thinking an interesting concept.

  6. Never have has there been such an engaging and an upfront and more personable writer/artist than Mr. Gaiman. Of course it's only my opinion, but hey how less than disarming and nonthreatening to you have to be? His thoughts as well as his words make him a valuable soul to the public table.

  7. The masterclass ad for his writing advice came on before I watched this video on his writing advice.

  8. Thank you for this. 🙂 Gaiman is a god. His writing is, ironically, very dreamlike, surreal in its ability to pull you out of reality for a time.

  9. You can tell when someone is a good writer by the way they carry themselves. Authenticity translates through the body and voice.

  10. I love how he looks at nowhere, and you get to see how profound he is imagining everything he’s saying. A great writer, indeed.

  11. oh its the guy that wrote at least 3 different books ive read and liked and diddnt know they were written by the same person until googling him… cool

  12. The reason he is defensive about his secret to where his ideas come from is his hair is actually a creature that lives on his head and whispers the ideas into his ears.

  13. Never sit in a chair, staring at a blinking cursor trying to think up ideas. Go do something. Keep busy. Ideas will sneak up on you while you're absorbed in the most boring tasks. I once got the entire plot of a novel while doing the dishes.

  14. Dear Neil, I had the pleasure of attending the highlight of the Dublin literary festival, an audience with yourself, at the Dublin convention centre, I dearly wished to ask a question of you, unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to do so, I would like to ask you of it now.. "When I come to the end of one of your wonderful stories, I always have mixed feelings about it, on the one hand, I'm excited to reach the finale, and on the other hand, I'm sad to say goodbye to the mesmerising characters, of which I have become so beloved, so invested in, so completely immersed in, that I feel a keen sense of loss, like a petite morte,and so my question is this, When you have come to the end of creating your story, how do you feel inside? ", with thanks and much love, Jennifer.

  15. Fantasy is the oldest genre of them all, as our legends and myths will confirm. It will be around forever.

  16. Ideas come from your awesome mind eskaping the miundane. It is inevitable unless you want to cheat people out of retirment peace.

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