I love Neil’s work. It’s magical. I listened to Stardust on audio-book while making a long commute. I think it took about a week. It was a week of wonder. I didn’t know that he never attended a day of college. His sharing of his practical approach to happiness and excellence is epic.

This video should be required watching for high school seniors, college seniors, and well…anyone. It’s so inspiring.

Here are his six magical tips for living as a creative.

1) “When you start out on a career in the arts, you have no idea what you’re doing. This is great. People who know what they’re doing know the rules, and they  know what is possible and what is impossible. You should not. If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do.”

2) “If you know what you’ve been put here to do, go and do that. It’s harder and easier than you think.” 

To become a writer, he took a journalist job. He said “I was paid to learn how to write.”

BEST ADVICE EVER!!! I meet so many people who aren’t willing to write for pennies to get started. Most will fail at their dream of paying their bills by writing because of this. I don’t really expect many people to jump on writing for .01 cents per word. Yes, that’s a penny. But I can tell you that I wasn’t too good to do so. And still am not.

3) Starting out, become thick-skinned. Deal with learning failure.

I’ve seen people give up on writing because they couldn’t do this. I read some really good advice early on:

“Publishing a work is like having a baby. To be successful as a writer (of any kind), you have to become numb to chopping up your baby or watching editors do so.” (note: this is an analogy. I am NOT numb to chopping up living people)

From Neil: Impostor Syndrome.

“The unshakable conviction that you’re getting away with something and at any moment now, they will discover you.”

(love that!)

4) “I hope you’ll make mistakes. It means you’re out there doing something.”

He says that making mistakes is making art. I agree! When something goes wrong, “make good art.” Such amazing advice.

5) “Make YOUR art.” You’re probably starting out as a “copy.” That’s OK, but find “your voice, your mind, your story, your vision.”

Live, dance, play, work as only you can.

“The moment that you feel that just possibly you’re walking down the street naked, exposing to much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself…that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”

He says that the things that he’s done that were his best work were the things he was least certain about.

6) Secret freelancer knowledge.:

“People get hired because somehow they get hired. In my case, I did something that in these days would be easy to check and would get me in trouble. When I was asked by editors who I had written or and I lied.”

But people keep working in a freelance world because:

* their work is good

* they’re easy to get along with

* they always deliver work on time.

He says that two our of three of those are fine.

7) Bonus: best piece of advice he was ever given came from Stephen King.

When Neil was riding high on his success, Stephen King came to one of his signings and was suitably impressed

“Stephen said ‘This is really great. You should enjoy it.’ And I didn’t. Best advice I ever got that I ignored.”

Neil didn’t take the advice. He became a write-aholic, and he wishes he had enjoyed the ride more.

8) One more gem from the video:

“If you can’t be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise and behave as they would.”



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