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Neil Gaiman: boredom is a writer’s best friend

Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

Hey, Neil Gaiman fans, stop entertaining the man so much on Twitter, would you?

Gaiman dropped by Late Night on Thursday to promote his new book, The View From the Cheap Seats, and the forthcoming Starz TV show based on his novel American Gods. While he was there, host Seth Meyers asked him what advice he would offer to beginning writers.

Gaiman’s words of wisdom? Get bored.

"Ideas come from daydreaming," he explained. "They come from drifting." So if you want to get a good idea for a book, you have to let yourself get so bored that your mind has nothing better to do than tell itself a story.

Of course, that’s easier said than done in this era of Netflix and Twitter.

"I’ve got 2.4 million people on Twitter who will entertain me at any moment," Gaiman said. "It’s like, ‘Dance for me!’ and they will."

So here’s a new plan for ensuring we get a new Neil Gaiman book every year — no, let’s dream big here, every three months:

  1. If you’re one of Gaiman’s 2.4 million Twitter followers, unfollow him.
  2. Under no circumstances should you dance when he commands it.
  3. Gaiman will grow so bored that he has no choice but to write constantly.
  4. Soon we’ll have an endless supply of new books by Neil Gaiman.

It’s foolproof.

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