What Would Neil Gaiman Do?

Although my recent “What Would (Famous Author Person) Post” was meant for me to use Famous Author Person(s) as role models, this week I’d like to turn it around and talk about what an actual Famous Author Person would do. In this case, Neil Gaiman.

Here’s the situation: you’ve boarded a plane and you have about fifteen minutes left of internet access before the flight attendant puts your phone in a heavy duty shredder as a warning to others. What would you do?

  • Read a magazine?
  • Check your email?
  • Bemoan the passing of SkyMall since you can’t check prices on monogrammed waterproof electric travel kits anymore?
  • Write a book?

Well, if you’re Famous Author Person Neil Gaiman, the answer is: you tweet.

This past Sunday he decided to do an impromptu Q&A session and he managed to answer a veritable snowstorm of questions. I can’t even imagine what that would be like. For one, I only have seventeen Twitter followers. Which means it would take approximately forty-seven years for me to come up with just a light flurry of questions, let alone a storm.

Neil, on the other hand, has 2.43 million followers. And when he says, “Q&A time!” people actually ask questions.

I’ve culled the list down to my favorites and thought I’d share here for all to enjoy.

Q. Do you use any software/techniques to plan your writing or just pen and paper and a very good memory?
A. Pen and paper and an appalling memory.

Q. How do you deal with creative block?
A. I don’t think it’s a real thing. It’s a made-up thing.

Q. How do you juggle overlapping projects?
A. Awkwardly.

Q. When your mind jumps to “the next great idea”, how the hell do you stick to your original “great idea”
A. Most stories need more than one idea. And you get the best ideas while writing other things.

Q. How & where did you get the courage to start writing for a living?
A. I was hungry and had no other marketable skills.

Q. On average, how many drafts of a short story do you write?
A. Sometimes just one and a polish. In one case, eleven (Murder Mysteries)

Q. iPhone or Android?
A. iPhone, Android, and a Blackberry Passport I will be very very sad to give up.

Q. Do you always start writing a book at the beginning?
A. I do. And normally when I finish writing the book I go back and write a different beginning.

Q. What is the main difference it writing for children and writing for adults?
A. Children pay closer attention.

Q. How do you know when a book is finished?
A I don’t remember who said that Art is never finished, only abandoned. But they had a point.

Q. Are you more productive as a writer with pen and pad or on a keyboard?
A. Either as long as there is no wifi.

Q . Are you a pantser or a plotter?
A In @GRRMspeaking’s analogy, I’m a gardener and not an architect. But I like knowing things before I start.

Q. Have you written anything in the past that you now currently disagree or regret writing?
A. No. I’ve written things I wouldn’t write now, but that’s very different.

Q. Advice to self-doubting writers-in-training who got extremely rusty after a long time of not writing?
A. Write.

Q. And advice to someone who want to start writing?
A. Write.

Q. When’s the best time to write?
A. Now.

Q. I have a lot of ideas, and even more unfinished stories… How do I pick up the pencil from here?
A. Finish things.

They have shut the aircraft door and asked us to put our devices into airplane mode. Farewell lovely everybody. That was fun.

There’s a lot of good advice in there. Hopefully I take some of it. Otherwise, I’ll never hit that coveted “twenty followers” milestone in Twitter.

Tune in again next week for a post where I shall hopefully have more time and less writer’s block. That’s a bad combination.

9 Comments for “What Would Neil Gaiman Do?”

says:

Um, I didn’t even know who Neil Gaiman was 😛 Lot’s of good advice in there – the one repeated most? WRITE 😀

Charlie

says:

I’m not sure if you did any subsequent research to find out who he was. Probably his most recognizable story to the general public is Coraline, because of the movie made of it. He’s written short stories, comics & graphic novels, radio, full-length novels (sometimes which are adaptations of his own work in other formats, like Neverwhere). He’s written two episodes of Doctor Who. He’s won the Hugo and Nebula awards. He got the Newbery medal for The Graveyard Book. I could go on for a while.

Julie

says:

I am no writer but love to read. So Charlie, write. Get a book on the shelf so I can read. Or just keep blogging and I’ll read that, it’s good too.
Been MIA for a long time but hoping to find a bit of time to just relax and enjoy.
Take care and God Bless!!

Christine

says:

I appreciate the second service announcement on your old email list because life is life and I missed the first one. 🙂 I had never heard of this author until recently when The Graveyard Book became August’s book club book, great read! Thanks for sharing and I look forward to more from you!

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