Neil Gaiman gives 10 tips and advice for young people going into the arts – all the things he wished he knew when he was young. The lecture was given to graduates at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia:
- Embrace the fact that you’re young. Accept that you don’t know what you’re doing. And don’t listen to anyone who says there are rules and limits.
- If you know your calling, go there. Stay on track. Keep moving towards it, even if the process takes time and requires sacrifice.
- Learn to accept failure. Know that things will go wrong. Then, when things go right, you’ll probably feel like a fraud. It’s normal.
- Make mistakes, glorious and fantastic ones. It means that you’re out there doing and trying things.
- When life gets hard, as it inevitably will, make good art. Just make good art.
- Make your own art, meaning the art that reflects your individuality and personal vision.
- Now a practical tip. You get freelance work if your work is good, if you’re easy to get along with, and if you’re on deadline. Actually you don’t need all three. Just two.
- Enjoy the ride, don’t fret the whole way. Stephen King gave that piece of advice to Neil years ago.
- Be wise and accomplish things in your career. If you have problems getting started, pretend you’re someone who is wise, who can get things done. It will help you along.
- Leave the world more interesting than it was before.
Neil Gaiman is an award winning writer and self-described ‘feral child who was raised in libraries’. He credits librarians with fostering a life-long love of reading:
I wouldn’t be who I am without libraries. I was the sort of kid who devoured books, and my happiest times as a boy were when I persuaded my parents to drop me off in the local library on their way to work, and I spent the day there. I discovered that librarians actually want to help you: they taught me about interlibrary loans.
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