13 Writing Tips From J.K. Rowling, Because She Knows A Thing Or Two About Perseverance

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: J. K. Rowling attends the press preview of 'Harry Potter & The Cursed Child' at Palace Theatre on July 30, 2016 in London, England. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a two-part West End stage play written by Jack Thorne based on an original new story by Thorne, J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
Source: Rob Stothard/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

If you're an aspiring writer, then you know how hard it can be to stay focused, motivated, and inspired while trying to finish a book and get it published. Whether it be writer's block or rejection letters, you're bound to hit a wall at some point during the incredible yet painful process of creating, but whenever you find yourself ready to thrown your manuscript out the window, turn to these writing tips from J.K. Rowling. After all, she knows a thing or two about writing a fantastical, bestselling series. 

Every successful author has valuable insights and advice about the writing and publishing process, because, well, they've been there themselves. But J.K. Rowling is especially qualified to help aspiring writers. A truly inspirational success story, Rowling overcame personal tragedy, devastating loss, financial hardships, countless rejections, and more to become one of the most beloved, recognizable authors of all time. Though her path wasn't easy — writing Harry Potter while trying to balance working and single motherhood, struggling through mental illness, being told her books weren't good enough for publication — Rowling didn't let fear, poverty, rejection, or even depression stop her from pursuing her dream. Talk about rags to riches, am I right?

If a person, a writer, can make it through everything Rowling did and go on to publish one of the most popular book series of all time, you know you can trust their insights. To keep you writing your own bestselling book, one page at a time, here are 13 brilliant pieces of writing advice from J.K. Rowling. Time to get typing!

1. “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. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.” 


2. “You've got to work. It's about structure. It's about discipline. It's all these deadly things that your school teacher told you you needed... You need it."

3. “I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.” 

4. "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!"


5. "[... Y]ou need to write something that a publisher would want to publish (it only takes one, but it might take a while to find them. If you are turned down by every single publisher in existence, you will have to consider the possibility that what you have written is not publishable). Next, you need to approach the publisher, either directly, or (which is advisable if you can manage it) by securing an agent who will act on your behalf. The best way to find agents' and publishers' addresses is to consult 'The Writer's and Artist's Yearbook', which is updated every year (Double-check that you are writing to the right person/people; don't, for example, send science fiction to a publisher of medical textbooks). Wait. Pray. This is the way Harry Potter got published."

6. “Sometimes you have to get your writing done in spare moments here and there.”

7. “I always advise children who ask me for tips on being a writer to read as much as they possibly can. Jane Austen gave a young friend the same advice, so I’m in good company there.”

8. "Perseverance is absolutely essential, not just to produce all those words, but to survive rejection and criticism."


9. “What you write becomes who you are… So make sure you love what you write!”

10. "All a writer needs is talent & ink."

11. "Failure is inevitable — make it a strength."

12. "You have to resign yourself to the fact that you waste a lot of trees before you write anything you really like, and that’s just the way it is. It’s like learning an instrument, you’ve got to be prepared for hitting wrong notes occasionally, or quite a lot, cause I wrote an awful lot before I wrote anything I was really happy with."


13. “I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It's totally for myself."


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