I came across this video last week. A bit long, at 19+ minutes, but I'm glad I watched. I think you will be, too.
If you don't have time, here are a few of Neil's points:
When you start out in a career in the arts, you have no idea what you’re doing. If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do. And because no one’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone from doing it again.
If you have an idea of what you were put here to do, just go and do that.
Imagine your goal as a mountain, a distant mountain, and he knew that if he kept aiming for the mountain, he’d be all right. Sometimes he had to stop and consider whether he was walking toward the mountain or away from it, and passed up proper jobs with proper pay because it would have taken him away from the mountain.
Be thick-skinned. Not every project will survive.
Don’t write books just for the money. You’ll still have the work.
The things he did because he was excited and wanted to see them exist in reality never let him down.
Whatever terrible things happen to you in life, make good art.
Neil ignored a piece of advice from Stephen King years ago, but says it was the best advice he ever got. When Neil was writing The Sandman, King said: “This is really good. You should enjoy it.” Neil didn’t; instead, he worried about things going wrong. In this video, he advises students: Let go and enjoy the ride.
Things have been hard these past few years. But when it all comes down to it, I’m still writing, still doing what I love, and people are buying it, reading it, and send me wonderful messages about how much they love it.
So thanks, Neil. Reminders like this are exactly the kick in the butt I need. I’m off to write now, something that’s been exciting me for awhile.