Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It goes without saying that Neil Gaiman is one of the most imaginative writers on around, so when he comes out with writing rules it's probably a good idea to listen. His first rule is one I've heard many times before, but as a writer, I can never hear it enough. I think Nike got it right when they said, Just Do It!

Neil Gaiman 8 Rules for Writing

Just in case you want to print these out and hang on your wall, here they are in text format:
  1. Write
  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
  3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
  7. Laugh at your own jokes.
The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

Did you find a favorite? How about a favorite Neil Gaiman book? My most Neil Gaiman read was Anansi Boys, and yes, it was amazing!


Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Not sure which of his books is my favorite but I like his writing rules. Thanks for sharing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Laugh at your own jokes in case you're the only one who finds them funny!

Samantha May said...

I've seen this list before but never knew who the author was! I'll definitely have to read his books!

Writing Through College

The Happy Whisk said...

It's amazing how many don't do the first one.

Nicole said...

This is great! I liked the perspective on #5.

S.P. Bowers said...

Those are pretty good rules. I think I liked OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE best, but it's up for debate.

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Anytime, Susan, it's tough picking a favorite when he has so many good ones!

Yes, Alex, if we can't laugh at our own jokes, we are in trouble!

Samantha, I think you will like his work. He is A-mazing!

The Happy Whisk, 1. Write. So simple, yet so profound.

Yes, Nicole, #5 is great advice, since what's in our heads and on the paper aren't always the same.

S.P., I loved that book, too!

Cherie Reich said...

What fantastic tips! I especially like #2. You can't get anywhere without it.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I haven't read any Neil Gaiman books but I always enjoy his inspirational quotes on writing. My own insecurities have to do with time management. Oh yes and talent. "Can I really do this?" I often ask. Then I have to write another book just to prove I can.

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