After days of seeing it everywhere on the internet, I finally got around to watching Neil Gaiman’s recent graduation speech at the University of the Arts. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop what you are doing and watch it. Trust me:
As evinced by the title of this post, what stuck out to me was Mr. Gaiman’s early statement that he learned to write by writing. This is something that I have always believed, but never quite managed to apply to myself. I’m a “wait for the magic muse to appear–or the ferocious deadline–and bang something out right then and there” kind of person.
However, it’s the rest of what he said – everything about failing, and trying, and faking your way to success – all of those things come from one thing: writing. They come from actually doing it. You can’t fail, try, or even fake it with a blank page or screen. It’s simply not possible.
And in fact this week, I have been learning to write by writing. I have several projects at the moment, which I have a tendency to pick up and drop as the muse serves (this blog being one of them), and this week I made a pact with myself to work on one of these projects – any one, just so long as it got done – every single day this week.
And it’s been great! Shocker, I know.
Thanks to Mr. Gaiman, I am feeling a lot more confident about it all too. As I said, I’ve known it all along, but sometimes you really just need someone to point out the obvious, and to point it out from their perspective, which by definition is different than yours, to really make it click.
So if you’re a writer, a dreamer, a thinker, an artist in any way, shape, or form, or if you’re not any of those things, if you’re just a human, watch this. It may not change your life, but it’ll get those gears turning.
ETA: Pumped up by the energy from watching this video, and then writing this post, I went to finish something I’ve been meaning to get around to before the deadline on Friday, and I went to the submission site to see that they had decided to close it early. So I’ll add this to Mr. Gaiman’s advice: Don’t wait. Do it now, because it may not be there later. Plus, what could you possibly be waiting for? There is no better time. The best time is now. Go!