Six Tips Every Writer Should Know Thanks to Neil Gaiman

Inspiration for freelancers from Neil GaimanBelow is one of the most inspirational videos I’ve seen. Though it dates back to 2012, I hope you’ll take time to watch all 19:55 minutes of it as you’ll be mesmerized listening to the eloquent words of author Neil Gaiman.

In this commencement speech to the graduates of the University of the Arts, Neil outlines six tips he wishes he’d known before starting out as a writer including the “secret freelancer knowledge” that he learned in the world of comics.

Plus, he shares the best piece of advice he ever received from colleague Stephen King, but completely failed to follow.

Whether you’re a writer, designer, photographer, dancer, artist – any creative being in the world of the arts – here are the six tips Neil reveals:

1. When you start out in a career in the arts, you have no idea what you’re doing. This is great! People who don’t know what they’re doing, don’t know what’s impossible so it’s easier to do.
2. If you have an idea of what you were put here to do, then, just go and do that. It’s much harder than it sounds, but, in the end, much easier than you imagined.
3. When you start out, you have to deal with the problems of failure. A freelance life, a life in the arts, is like putting messages in bottles, hoping someone will find one of your bottles, open and read it and put something back in it showing appreciation (i.e. commission, money, or love) that will wash its way back to you. You’ll have to accept that you’ll put hundreds of things in bottles before one comes back to you.
4. I hope you’ll make mistakes because if you do it means you’re out there doing something. Mistakes themselves can be very useful.
5. Make YOUR art. Do the stuff only you can do. One thing you have that no one else has is YOU – your voice, your mind, your story, your vision.
6. SECRET FREELANCER KNOWLEDGE – People get hired because somehow they get hired. You get work, however you get work, but you’ll KEEP getting work in a freelance world (and more & more of today’s world is freelance), because of these 3 things:
a. Your work is good.
b. You’re easy to get along with.
c. You deliver your work on time.
NOTE FROM NEIL: You don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. Watch the video for Neil’s humorous explanation of this.

To learn the best piece of advice that Neil received from Stephen King, but failed to follow, click on the video below. I hope Neil’s words touch and inspire you.

“Make interesting mistakes. Make amazing mistakes. Make glorious & fantastic mistakes. Break rules and leave the world more interesting for you’re being here. Make good art.” – Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is an English author now living in Minneapolis. The creator of Sandman comics, he is credited with being one of the creators of modern comics. He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top 10 living post-modern writers.