The author of The Sandman explains the key to making fearless art.
On the heels of last week's timeless commencement addresses by icons like David Foster Wallace, Ellen DeGeneres, and Ray Bradbury comes this fantastic speech by Neil Gaiman, addressing the 2012 graduating class of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. (Which happens to be technical birthplace of Brain Pickings as we know it today—it's there I took my first web design night class in early 1800s and transformed what began as a tiny email newsletter into a tiny website.) Gaiman himself never graduated from college—in fact, he never even enrolled in college—yet he earned his place in literary culture as one of the most celebrated and prolific writers working today. Here, he imparts several pieces of life wisdom on young people beginning a career in the arts.
1. Say "no" to projects that take you further from rather than closer to your own creative goals, however flattering or lucrative. (Hugh MacLeod put it beautifully: "The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.")
2. Approach your creative labor with joy, or else it becomes work. (As Ray Bradbury said, "Writing is not a serious business. It's a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun of it.")