What Neil Gaiman taught me about writing

I’ll start this by saying I’ve never met or spoken Mr. Gaiman. However, for the last 12 years, he has been my shadowed mentor.

When I was 10 years old, I picked up Coraline in one of my classrooms. I just wanted something to read. I was always reading. Years after the fact of middle school, teachers would identify me as the girl who always had her nose in a book. Coraline wasn’t the first book I’d read, and it wasn’t the last. But, Coraline was the most important book I’d ever and will ever read. I can identify the moment I first read Neil Gaiman’s writing as the moment I realized I wanted to be a writer.

Since I’ve read that book, I’ve attempted to collect anything and everything Gaiman has ever written. But it wasn’t only that I enjoyed his writing that I became such a fan. it was how much I wished to model my own writing after his. Gaiman is sparse – well, in everything but American Gods – and funny. He is whimsical like Alice Hoffman but with more thrilling ideas and fantastical worlds. He is everything that has made me a writer.

Gaiman receives questions all the time about writing, and my favorite thing about him is that he is also sparse in his responses. The conclusion Neil Gaiman usually comes to is that in order to write you need to just do it. Stop asking questions. Stop trying to bypass the process. Write. Write more. And keep writing. As a writer myself, I know that this is the hardest part of the process. But if you can’t write, you aren’t a writer, period.

Check out Neil’s online journal.

Published by

Alexandra Stanislaw

Alexandra Stanislaw is the Editor-In-Chief and founder of Devise Literary. She is also an Assistant Editor for Hotel Amerika. Her work appears in Crab Fat Magazine ("The Good Friend" and "Tampa Raised You Up"), Ragazine, and Chicago Review of Books.

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