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Neil Gaiman’s Advice to Writers: Get Bored

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Boring Advice

Earlier this summer, the beloved writer Neil Gaiman was a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers to promote The View from the Cheap Seats.

At one point in the interview, Meyers asked Gaiman about boredom. Here was Gaiman’s response:

“I think it’s about where ideas come from, they come from day dreaming, from drifting, that moment when you’re just sitting there…”

“The trouble with these days is that it’s really hard to get bored. I have 2.4 million people on Twitter who will entertain me at any moment…it’s really hard to get bored.”

What’s the solution? Gaiman adds:

“I’m much better at putting my phone away, going for boring walks, actually trying to find the space to get bored in. That’s what I’ve started saying to people who say ‘I want to be a writer,” I say ‘great, get bored.’”

Given that I have a chapter in my latest book titled Embrace Boredom, I was pleased to hear Gaiman’s advice.

I have definitely found it to be true in the creative pursuits that dominate my professional life. If I want to crack a proof or polish an important idea there’s really no substitute for hours and hours of just thinking.

The relationship is so linear that it’s almost (to reuse the word) boring. The more time I spend just walking and cogitating and being bored in a given season, the more I produce.

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