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Arts & Entertainment

Finding Your Voice

Neil Gaiman

Lesson time 14:54 min

Your writer’s voice is what makes it possible for someone to pick up a page of text and recognize that you wrote it. Learn how to develop your voice and how to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

Neil Gaiman
Teaches the Art of Storytelling
In his first-ever online class, Neil Gaiman teaches you how he conjures up new ideas, convincing characters, and vivid fictional worlds.


When you're a writer, starting out, the idea of your voice, of your style is huge. You want to know what your voice is. You don't really know. I once, years ago, ran into a quote from Jerry Garcia where he said, "style is the stuff that you get wrong. If you were actually playing the guitar perfectly-- if you were making music perfectly, there would be no style." And I thought this was such a great quote and remembered it, and years later, went to find it on the internet. And the only place I could ever find it was me saying it in interviews. So maybe he never said it at all. But I do think that a writer's voice, which is huge, which is important, which is actually the thing that the reader responds to more than anything else-- the end of the day, is a result of getting to the point where you discover this is what you sound like. And the problem, I think, that a lot of young writers have is they don't sound like anybody yet. I know when I was a young writer, I didn't really sound like anybody. What I did was sounded like everybody else. And it's what you do when you're starting out. You imitate. You find voices that you like. You go, "this person is doing something great." I would look at writers like Ari Lafferty or Harlan Ellison, Roger Zelazny, Ursula Le Guin. I go, "I love this thing that they do. I'll try and do that." It was very strange. I wrote a children's book when I was, what, 22? It was the first thing I ever wrote. It exists only in my attic and in manuscript. And it's not very good. But after "Coraline" came out, I thought, "hang on. I have that children's book in my attic. I wonder if it's any good?" And I went off. I found it. I read it to my daughter, Maddie, who at that point was six or seven. And at the end of the day, I sent it back up to the attic where it resides and will reside until the crack of doom. What really fascinated me about it was there was about a page and a half somewhere toward the end that read like me. It read like-- the rest of it, it read like Noel Langley and Roald Dahl. It read like every children's author I'd ever read. And it's all coming back out again. There's nothing really original. I haven't figured out how to do anything. And that's great. And that's absolutely fine, because you don't have to get it right at the beginning. You start out by making mistakes. You start out by getting it wrong. The most important thing you do is just write. But there was just a page. And I looked at it. I thought, "that's me. That actually reads like me." And seeing that felt wonderful, because it was the idea that, yeah, 22-year-old Neil-- actually, the voice was there. I just had to do a whole lot more writing. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think mistakes may be the most important thing for a writer. The question of how do you find your mistakes is very easy. You do stuff. The process of living, the process of trying to create, the process of getting out there and doing something is always a ...

Unleash your imagination

Award-winning author Neil Gaiman has spent more than a quarter of a century crafting vivid, absorbing fiction. Now, the author of Stardust, Coraline, and The Sandman teaches his approach to imaginative storytelling in his online writing class. Learn how to find your unique voice, develop original ideas, and breathe life into your characters. Discover Neil’s philosophy on what drives a story—and open new windows to the stories inside you.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Great motivator for writing and finishing the work

The author gave many very practical and useful bits of information, focussing less on 'this is what you're plot structure should like' and more on fostering creativity, persevering, and simply better writings; less 'pseudo-science of writing', and just had more useful stuff.

First, that I can get advice from another writer without worrying that I'll just be copying that writer's style. Also, I liked the part at the end when he explained how you need the arrogance of a young person in order to succeed at this. Other than that, I just liked all the lessons.

I've loved Neil Gaiman's writing for years now. To be able to take a class with him as the instructor is like a dream come true. It was so motivating and inspiring as well as informative. I've wanted to start writing again for quite a while and this was the catalyst that got me going. I can't wait to take the other writing courses and continue to work on my stories.


Your course has created conflict in my brain thanks you are taking away my brain

Your course has created conflict in my brain thanks you are taking away my brain

Robin J.

Sometimes it feels like the key to finding your voice is not just to write a lot and write the wrong things (as Neil advises here) but to also go back and read/be critical about your own work - which is so difficult for me!

Liz C.

I'm at the point of writing things the wrong way … or at least wrong to me. I am finding ideas to re-write what I have written and hopefully finish the story.

Jennifer R.

I loved that bit 'it's ok' to write rubbish, thank you! Maybe we need that pinned up on the wall.


I just write. I don't really understand the concept of imitating others. I just sit down and write the stories that come to mind without analysing or finding a voice to myself. Am I the only one who is a bit confused about theses concepts?😅


I've been stuck on voice, but it makes sense: write more, finish more, and you will find your voice.

Nick H.

I've always struggled with finding my voice in my writing. He has some great tips and gives a lot of reassurance to a struggling writer.

Dila T.

As a young writer who is just starting out, I find everything Neil shares in these lessons incredibly useful and inspiring. His sincere and reassuring style is a motivation in itself. Truly appreciated.

Karen G.

Continual reference to young and beginning writers. I had to keep jumping over that to take in his points.