Wondering if you can make it as an author? For aspiring writers, we’re sharing writing tips from JK Rowling, the Harry Potter author.
J.K. Rowling is known as one of the most inspirational modern writers, and she’s known for encouraging others with writing advice that tells them to make the most of what they have where they are, whether that means jotting down ideas in spare moments or rewriting plot points to suit better the ideas floating around in their imaginations.
After getting her start as a struggling single mom who stayed true to her vision while experiencing one rejection after another, J.K. Rowling has inspired human beings worldwide. Whether you’re looking for encouragement not to stop writing or you’re a young writer who is just starting out with your writing career, the best-selling author has tons of writing tips that will take you from your first draft to your first book series. You can also take a look at our writing tips for fanfiction!
- 1. Write About What’s Meaningful
- 2. Write Without a Specific Goal
- 3. Start From the Ground Up
- 4. Find Your Inspiration
- 5. Let Your Imagination Run Wild
- 6. Stay Persistent
- 7. Make The Most of Your Time
- 8. Remember: You Don’t Need Much to Be a Writer
- 9. Protect Your Writing Time
- 10. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Alone with Your Thoughts
1. Write About What’s Meaningful
“I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It’s totally for myself. I never in my wildest dreams expected this popularity.”J.K. Rowling
Writing because you love it—not because you have a specific outcome in mind is key to success and happiness. Allowing your imagination to drift without trying to get to a certain endpoint can open your mind to new ideas and help take your story in a direction you may not have expected. While writing for a specific audience can be important sometimes, it’s also beneficial to write purely about what interests you without worrying about creating specific content for someone else.
Rowling’s advice here is in line with one of the most common tips when it comes to writing—put your pen to paper like no one is ever going to see what you’re writing. It’s your call when you want to publish and what you don’t, and writing in a way that’s just for you can help some of the ideas in the recesses of your mind make it onto paper.
2. Write Without a Specific Goal
“And the idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for a while is just bliss.”J.K. Rowling
When you’re working with a deadline or struggling with the fear of failure, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to create the next great novel or hit a specific word count before your editor calls, asking when you will submit your work. To get your creative juices moving, J.K. Rowling recommends spending some time simply seeing where your writing goes when you allow your mind to go on its own path.
This can be tough when you’re working to build your writing career, especially if your writing allows you to pay your bills. Remembering that creativity is everything when you’re writing can be important, and you need time to allow your mind to relax and reset.
3. Start From the Ground Up
“I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I still had a daughter who I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”J.K. Rowling
It can be tough to stay focused on your writing, especially when publishers have rejected you in the past. J.K. Rowling’s story of being turned down by 12 publishers before someone finally decided that the first Harry Potter book could be a success can give you the confidence you need to stay the course, even when others don’t believe in your ability as a writer.
No matter where you’re currently at, writing is always a way to share your feelings, express yourself, and let your creativity work. When life is hard, your pen and paper are still there. Work to put your feelings onto paper; remember, you’ve got nothing to lose.
4. Find Your Inspiration
“You have to resign yourself to wasting lots of trees before you write anything really good. That’s just how it is. It’s like learning an instrument. You’ve got to be prepared for hitting wrong notes occasionally, or quite a lot. That’s just part of the learning process. And read a lot. Reading a lot really helps. Read anything you can get your hands on.”J.K. Rowling
When you’re spending all your time writing, it can be easy to forget that you must also take the time to read. The writing of others can help to inspire your writing and help you learn more about the style you’d like to create. Try not to stay too focused on the technical details of the writing of others. Instead, note what type of writing resonates with you and what doesn’t, and work to incorporate elements of writing you like into your work.
5. Let Your Imagination Run Wild
“I’ve no idea where ideas come from and I hope I never find out; it would spoil the excitement for me if it turned out I just have a funny little wrinkle on the surface of my brain which makes me think about invisible train platforms.”J.K. Rowling
Planning out the plot of your short story or novel can help guide your writing, but Rowling recommends taking your time and allowing ideas to come to you throughout the process. You never know when your creativity will strike or what will spark an idea that could change the direction of your plot. Staying open to new thoughts and ideas allows you to write something new, and it’s important not to get too tied to how you think your story is going to go.
6. Stay Persistent
“I’ve been writing since I was six. It is a compulsion, so I can’t really say where the desire came from; I’ve always had it. My breakthrough with the first book came through persistence, because a lot of publishers turned it down!”J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling is known for staying true to her vision even when life got tough. After multiple rejections from multiple publishers, Rowling kept her belief in her writing strong. If you feel called to write, keep going—even if the people who can help you do your writing into money don’t quite see your talent yet. If you haven’t had a publisher accept your work, there’s a good chance you haven’t connected with the right company—yet.
7. Make The Most of Your Time
“Whatever job I had, I was always writing like crazy. All I ever liked about offices was being able to type up stories on the computer when no one was looking. I was never paying much attention in meetings because I was usually scribbling bits of my latest stories in the margins of the pad or thinking up names for my characters. This is a problem when you’re supposed to be taking minutes of the meeting.”J.K. Rowling
Whether you’re a parent, a student, or working a full-time job, it can be tough to find the time to focus on your writing, even when you want it to be your top priority. J.K. Rowling recommends taking the snippets of time you have and making the most of them, whether that means daydreaming when you can at work or taking advantage of the few spare minutes you have throughout the day. Keeping your notebook close is important when it comes to making the most of your time, and it’s key that you always let your mind drift back to the story you’re working to create.
8. Remember: You Don’t Need Much to Be a Writer
“All a writer needs is talent and ink.”J.K. Rowling
It can be tempting to spend large amounts of money on the latest laptop or tablet to help you take your writing to the next level, but getting back to basics is often a better fit. When you’re alone with your notebook and a pen, you’re free from the distractions of your phone and social media and will be better able to focus on the story you want to tell. When you shut out the rest of the world, you’ll allow your talent to shine through, one word at a time.
9. Protect Your Writing Time
“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have ‘essential’ and ‘long overdue’ meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it.”J.K. Rowling
When you feel pulled in a million directions, finding the time you need to focus on your writing can be tough. Rowling recommends fiercely protecting your writing time, just like you would protect the time needed to succeed in your 9-5 job. Whether working on your first short story or novel, you need time to refine your thoughts and focus on your work. Talking with family and friends about the time you’ll need to work on your writing can help you keep the time you need to hone your craft sacred.
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Alone with Your Thoughts
“Write what you know: your own interests, feelings, beliefs, friends, family and even pets will be your raw materials when you start writing. Develop a fondness for solitude if you can, because writing is one of the loneliest professions in the world!”J.K. Rowling
There’s no doubt that silence can be scary when you’re alone with your notebook or your laptop. Don’t be afraid to let your thoughts wander; spending time with your mind is a key part of a writer’s life. Spending time on your own is key to processing your thoughts about those closest to you and utilizing your life experiences to bring you closer to creating your first bestseller.
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