Writing inspiration from Neil Gaiman

2016_April_imaginationWhere do I get my ideas from? I make them up. Out of my head.

-Neil Gaiman

Words of wisdom from the multi-talented author, Neil Gaiman.

Although, for those who read Gaiman, I think any reader would be hard-pressed to believe Gaiman’s novels are simply rehashing his own stories and experiences. And that they most certainly originate in his head, or through some very odd dreams.

Many of the rest of us can’t escape so easily. I’m often surprised at how many people confuse my characters with, well … me. But an author who doesn’t write fantasy or horror isn’t necessarily writing autobiography.

We invent characters and invent an entire inner life to accompany their stories. This doesn’t mean we simply superimpose our own lives onto those of our characters.

For those of us who don’t write fantasy, or horror, or crime books, we’re still inventing our stories and our characters ‘out of our heads’. This is where our ideas take on a life of their own. And isn’t that half the fun of writing?

Here’s to much writing inspiration to us all – and, in the insightful words of Neil Gaiman, to lots of ideas made up. Out of our heads.


  1. evelyneholingue on April 23, 2016 at 2:25 am

    He’s certainly very creative and must have vivid dreams. Funny that you mention being a little bit like ‘you’ in your stories. There was a little bit of me in my MG novel. Not much but a little. In my new YA that I plan to start submitting soon there is nothing familar with me or my life. Even the town in the California setting is the product of my imagination. Neil Gaiman is a top writer to read for the pleasure of the story and to admire for his story telling skills.

    • kimberlysullivan on April 26, 2016 at 8:21 am

      Yes, I think it’s true that we do borrow some of ‘us’, and certainly our surroundings and experiences. But we also spend lots of time making stuff up. That’s part of the fun – constructing a rich inner life for our characters. I suppose that’s why they start feeling like friends sometimes. Or is this just the proof that we’re all a little crazy? : )

  2. Jeff Coleman on December 1, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    I think that for every writer, it’s some combination of personal experience and the imagination. On the one hand, we make up all sorts of different kinds of characters (which allows us to explore what it’s like to be different), but I also think that we always bring a piece of ourselves with us wherever we go and whatever we work on, because if our characters are coming from inside our heads then they’re inevitably going to bear the marks of our own unique experiences 🙂

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