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Neil Gaiman Quotes For When Life Needs a Little Fantasy

Looking for the best Neil Gaiman quotes?

Neil Gaiman, the author of Coraline, began reading at age four.

He said, “I was a reader. I loved reading.

Reading things gave me pleasure.

I was very good at most subjects in school, not because I had any particular aptitude in them, but because normally on the first day of school they’d hand out schoolbooks, and I’d read them—which would mean that I’d know what was coming up because I’d read it.”

His works have been enjoyed by adults and children alike.

The movie Coraline is animated rated PG and intended for children.

It also leaves most adults, wondering why it is so creepy!

The Graveyard Book (2008), won both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted 2013’s Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards.

He is a successful author by any measure.

Neil’s work is best known for his use of allusion.

In these Neil Gaiman quotes he alludes to the connection between life and art.

He also speaks about writing and making mistakes.

Neil Gaiman quotes about making art

1. “If you make art, people will talk about it. Some of the things they say will be nice, some won’t. You’ll already have made that art, and when they’re talking about the last thing you did, you should already be making the next thing.” ― Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: No matter what we do people will always have something to say. Some of that will be nice, and some of it won’t. Whether it is art or something else though, always keep making progress and taking steps to grow or create. And don’t get caught up listening to the hatersespecially about your creative endeavors!

2. “Life imitates art, but clumsily, copying its movements when it thinks it isn’t looking.” ― Neil Gaiman, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

Everyday Application: Does life imitate art or does art imitate life? Either way, there are parallels between life and art. Most of the time they do seem to be a messy attempt at copying things while it thinks we are distracted! Make the most of life and art everyday by immersing yourself in both!

3. “And remember that whatever discipline you are in, whether you are a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a designer, whatever you do, you have one thing that’s unique. You have the ability to make art.” ― Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: If you are any of these types of creatives struggling to reach your goals and your definition of success, just remember that you are out there doing it! Most people will talk about writing something, but never do it. Or they will write it, but never submit it anywhere. Take the risks with your art and put it out there. That one act alone will make you even more unique!

4. “Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.” ― Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: Life is going to hit you upside the head sometimes. It is not a matter of if, but when. Marcus Aurelius once said life was more like wrestling than dancing. If you are a creative person then make art when it gets hard. Even if you aren’t an artist writing in a journal or doodling can be helpful in finding your calm and peace. Dancing around your kitchen won’t hurt either!

5. “I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually, time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter.” ― Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: When bad things happen it forces us to feel something. Anger, sadness, jealousy, or whatever powerful emotion it dredges up. Those emotions can be incredible inspiration for artists. It often produces some of that person’s best work. So let yourself heal by putting it out into the world in whatever artform you choose.

6. “Do what only you do best. Make good art. Make it on the good days, too.“― Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: Each of us has a unique set of skills and talents. Use them in only the way you were meant to. If you are an artist than make good art. However, you don’t have to be an artist to take this quote to heart! Are you compassionate; then help people. Do you have a knack for problem solving; then create solutions. Whatever your talent is, do what only you do best!

7. “Do whatever you have to do to keep making art. I know people who love bad reviews because it means they’ve made something happen and made people talk; I know people who have never read any of their reviews. It’s their call. You get on with making art.” ― Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: People are so different! While a hater might inspire one person, having a hater could completely derail another. If your goal is to make art (or do “x”) then do that however it works best for you. Keep your heart and mind focused on what you want to do, and take actions that get you there!

8. “Elegantly accomplished, said Nehemiah Trot. I shall compose an Ode. Would you like to stay and listen?” ― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

Everyday Application: This is a simple reminder that you do not have to read books you don’t like. Don’t like a style of music; you do not have to listen. Can’t understand someone else’s art; don’t view it. What you do not have to do is complain and be a hater! If you feel like you have something constructive or helpful that is one thing, but complaining is just not nice!

Neil Gaiman quotes about making mistakes

9. “So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.” ― Neil Gaiman

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Everyday Application: It might seem strange to wish someone makes new mistakes, but it isn’t really. That is how we learn and get new ideas. It is like the Andy Grammer song, Wish You Pain…”It’s hard to say, but I wish you pain.” That is where the growth happens, it is where you find out all you are capable of. And you are capable of more than you know!

10. “I hope that in this year to come; you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.” ― Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: Mistakes and pain help us grow. Every time we go through something it teaches us a new lesson. We learn how strong and capable we really are. Embrace your mistakes and experience new things. It is in those experiences that we live life.

11. “Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes next year and forever.” ― Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: The things we are most afraid of doing are the things we need to do the most. First, identify what you are really scared of? Are you worried that you will fail, or scared to succeed and see the change that brings to your life? Failure will provide you with mistakes that help you learn and be even better next time. Success will open up new doors and help you become who you were meant to be.

12. “Punk still informs everything I do, you have to be willing to make mistakes, and you have to be willing to make mistakes in public. Sometimes the best way to learn something is by doing it wrong and looking at what you did.” ― Neil Gaiman

13. “Sometimes the way to do what you hope to do will be clear cut, and sometimes it will be almost impossible to decide whether or not you are doing the correct thing, because you’ll have to balance your goals and hopes with feeding yourself, paying debts, finding work, settling for what you can get.” ― Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art

Everyday Application: Real world responsibilities can make it hard to decide to follow your dreams. Feeding yourself, paying your bills, and being able to financially sustain your life is an important thing to consider, but it shouldn’t be the reason you do not take action on your dreams. You might not be able to quit your job and follow your dreams right this moment. You might have to work full-time and then work on your goals afterward. This is hard, time-consuming, and requires sacrifice. However, if you are willing to struggle now, you could be living your dream life in the future.

The importance of fiction and books according to these Neil Gaiman quotes

14. “This is a work of fiction. Still, given an infinite number of possible worlds, it must be true on one of them. And if a story set in an infinite number of possible worlds is true in one of them, then it must be true in all of them. So maybe it’s not as fictional as we think.” ― Neil Gaiman, InterWorld

15. “Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.” ― Neil Gaiman, The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction

16. “And while we’re on the subject, I’d like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if it’s a bad thing. As if “escapist” fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in.”― Neil Gaiman, The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction

17. “If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn’t you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with(and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armor: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.” ― Neil Gaiman, The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction

18. “After that, he had more or less stopped reading. You could not trust fiction. What good were books, if they couldn’t protect you from something like that?” ― Neil Gaiman

19. “It was as if some people believed there was a divide between the books that you were permitted to enjoy and the books that were good for you, and I was expected to choose sides. We were all expected to choose sides. And I didn’t believe it, and I still don’t. I was, and still am, on the side of books, you love.”― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

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20. “People tend to find books when they are ready for them.” ― Neil Gaiman

21. “There. Consider yourself warned. There are so many little triggers out there, being squeezed in the darkness even as I write this. This book is correctly labeled.” ― Neil Gaiman, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

22. “Now, all we have to worry about is all the other books, and, of course, life, which is huge and complicated and will not warn you before it hurts you. Thank you for coming. Enjoy the things that never happened. Secure your own mask again after you read these stories, but do not forget to help others.” ― Neil Gaiman, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

Neil Gaiman quotes about writing, other writers, and reviews

23. “As JRR Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.” ― Neil Gaiman, The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction

24. “George R. R. Martin is not your bitch.” ― Neil Gaiman

25. “In the shower today, I tried to think about the best advice I’d ever been given by another writer. There was something that someone said at my first Milford, about using style as a covering, but sooner or later you would have to walk naked down the street, that was useful…” ― Neil Gaiman

26. “If bad reviews (of whatever kind) upset you, just don’t read them. It’s not like you’ve signed an agreement with the person buying the book to exchange your book for their opinion.” ― Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: Not everyone is going to enjoy your art, and that is ok. You can choose to look at the comments and critiques if you find that they help you improve. If you just get discouraged, then don’t read them! Your role as a creator is to put your art out there. What happens after that is not under your control. In fact, this holds true in life regardless of what you do. You do not have to concern yourself with what other people think of you.

27. “You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees.” ― Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: The actionable tasks that have to happen for you to be successful are often ignored by others. They see you hitting the big milestones and winning and think you got lucky. They didn’t see you writing all day, just to toss that draft in the trash can. They didn’t see you sending that manuscript to yet another publisher. You have to write (insert the appropriate verb for you here), even though no one is seeing it.

28. “I don’t know what it’s like to read this book. I only know what it was like to live the writing of it.” ― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

29. “In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don’t know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there, to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn’t consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read.” ― Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art

Everyday Application: Imposter Syndrome is the term commonly used to explain this. Many people work hard and then when they reach where they were trying to go, feel like they don’t deserve it. They feel like at any moment someone is going to come along and ‘out them’ for being a fraud. Learn more about Imposter Syndrome in this article.

30. “Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be—an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics, and supporting myself through my words—was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal.” ― Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art

31. “One word after another. That’s the only way that novels get written and, short of elves coming in the night and turning your jumbled notes into Chapter Nine, it’s the only way to do it. So keep on keeping on. Write another word and then another.” ― Neil Gaiman

32. “I make things up and write them down.” ― Neil Gaiman

33. “I’m an author. We don’t want to lead. We don’t need to follow. We stay home and make stuff up and write it down and send it out into the world, and get inside people’s heads. Perhaps we change the world and perhaps we don’t. We never know. We just make stuff up.” ― Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman quotes that speak the truth

34. “It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

35. “Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren’t.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

36. “As sure as water’s wet and days are long and a friend will always disappoint you in the end.” ― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

37. “M is for magic. All the letters are if you put them together properly. You can make magic with them, and dreams, and, I hope, even a few surprises…” ― Neil Gaiman, M Is for Magic

38. “It is good for children to find themselves facing the elements of a fairy tale – they are well-equipped to deal with these.” ― Neil Gaiman, M Is for Magic

39. “I love stories where women save themselves.” ― Neil Gaiman

40. “Depriving our communities of libraries will deprive our society of its ability to survive. “― Neil Gaiman

41. “But revelation? That is the province of a dream. It can be yours, but only if your heart is strong.” ― Neil Gaiman, Dream Country

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42. “I have lost people, though. It’s strange when it happens. I don’t actually lose them. Not in the way one loses one’s parents, either as a small child when you think you are holding your mother’s hand in a crowd and then you look up, and it’s not your mother… or later. When you have to find the words to describe them at a funeral service or a memorial, or when you are scattering ashes on a garden of flowers or into the sea.” ― Neil Gaiman, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

43. “Forgetfulness can sometimes bring freedom of a sort.” ― Neil Gaiman, Murder Mysteries

44. “Sometimes I think that truth is a place. In my mind, it is like a city; there can be a hundred roads, a thousand paths, that will all take you, eventually, to the same place. It does not matter where you come from. If you walk toward the truth, you will reach it, whatever path you take.” ― Neil Gaiman, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

45. “I make them up; I tell them. ‘Out of my head.’” ― Neil Gaiman

46. “It’s more than that. The things we do make echoes.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Kindly Ones

47. “I don’t really like driving in the snow. There’s something about the motion of the falling snowflakes that hurts my eyes, throws my sense of balance all to hell. It’s like tumbling into a field of stars.” ― Neil Gaiman, Worlds’ End

48. “Our worries, fears, and dreams make fantastic stories. Take them with you as you grow up.” ― Neil Gaiman

More Neil Gaiman quotes and sayings

49. “Eyes will not see you. Minds will not hold you. Where you are is nothing and nobody.” ― Neil Gaiman

50. “Why are we talking about this good and evil? They’re just names for sides. We know that.” ― Neil Gaiman, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

51. “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – Neil Gaiman

52. “You’re alive. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything.” – Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: being alive is a great gift and everyday is an opportunity to rise above the limits you set in your own mind. Human beings can do anything, make anything, and dream anything. You are no different than the greatest entrepreneurs, inventors, and minds this world has seen. The only difference is those people believed they could and didn’t limit themselves. They go after their dreams without limiting themselves.

53. “Being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t scared. Being brave means you are scared, really scared, badly scared, and you do the right thing anyway.” – Neil Gaiman

54. “Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.” – Neil Gaiman

55. “There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.” – Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: Humans are an interesting blend of fragility and strength. When we have those moments that want to break us, we can tap into our innate strength and survive. There are so many stories of people who have survived the worst things imaginable. How did they do it? They reached deep within themselves and believed in their strength and resilience.

56. “The real world has no obligation to be convincing, so it throws up some very weird moments sometimes.” – Neil Gaiman

57. “Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.” – Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: The only way to live life is to actually live it. That means experiencing the great joys and the immense sorrows that make up our time on earth. Take the risks and make the most of your choices and decisions. Live for what makes you happy and fulfilled. Don’t let fear hold you back.

58. “The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” – Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: Creating something is a wonderful feeling. People can create art, stories, inventions, and even ways of life. Imagination is one of the greatest powers that humans have. If you can dream it up then you can make it happen, and there is an indescribable joy in doing so!

59. “I’m somebody who considers happiness a journey, not a destination.” – Neil Gaiman

Everyday Application: Happiness is something we choose everyday. We can not define happiness by giving it a destination like “I will be happy when I achieve…” Be happy today and make it part of your journey. Your life’s journey is yours to take, and the paths to your destination will be filled with happy and sad things. However, you can make sure your state of mind is one that breeds happiness.

What did you learn from these Neil Gaiman quotes?

Some of the greatest authors in modern history inspired him, including C. S. Lewis and Lewis Carrol.

When asked which author inspired him the most, Gaiman said that honor goes to Roger Zelazny.

Gaiman began his career in the early 80s, focusing on journalism and book reviews, to get his feet wet in the industry.

He published his first fantasy story in a literary magazine in 1984.

He also fell in love with comics and befriended Alan Moore, author of Watchmen and V for Vendetta.

Neil Gaiman writes in a variety of genres, and his work is spectacular.

He was also a professor at Bard College.

Neil also does activism work to help raise awareness for global refugees.

Neil and friend Tori Amos have collaborated on their work, with Neil developing a character after her.

She also alludes to him in several of her songs.

Do you have a favorite work of Neil’s or a quote you would like to share?

Leave them in the comment section below!

Check out Neil Gaiman on MasterClass where he teaches the Art of Storytelling.

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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