Learning from the Masters ~ J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling had an idea that popped into her mind on a train to King’s Cross Station in London 1990. That idea would soon propel her into writing the Harry Potter series and lead to world wide success as a writer. But it wasn’t always an easy journey and she had trials and setbacks along the way, as most writers do.

I, like 99.9% of you, have heard of the Harry Potter world, have read it, and/or watched the movies. We know the depth of the characters and the intrigue of the magical world. What I love even more, is learning about J.K. Rowling as a writer and how she created these books.

What I did for you, my dedicated readers, was compile as much information I could about how she writes her books. Outside of the Wizarding World, she has written other books, some of which were published under a pseudonym (Robert Galbraith). I hope that some of her ideas and processes might stick out to you and be things you can try to enhance your own writing.

Not a must do, but a “won’t get far without” instead.

Instead of tips, tricks, and must dos for writing success, J.K. Rowling has 5 things that she believes writers won’t get far without.

(Please note that my words are mixed in with summaries of what J.K. Rowling was saying in each section. All the links I used will be posted on the bottom for further reading.)

Reading: This is our first sneak peek into what we like and dislike, what works and doesn’t work. Rowling says that this is especially important for newer writers. We may begin by imitating others and then eventually can find our own voice. But without reading, we don’t know what this sounds like.

Discipline: Inspiration is great but can be short lived. Writers have to be disciplined enough to keep writing even when we don’t feel the same spark. But if I know anything, it is bound to come back.

Resilience and Humility: Rejection is hard but it is what we do with that rejection that can define our writing careers. It is important that we keep writing and pushing forward on our projects.

“The harshest critic is often inside your own head.”

Courage: Do not let failure or fear be the reasons that you don’t continue writing or trying to put that writing out into the world. Be the person who finishes the projects and accomplishes the dreams they have always had, not the person who continues to dream without action.

Fear of failure is the saddest reason on earth not to do what you were meant to do.”

Independence: Follow your heart and do what you believe to be right for your writing. Do not follow the “must dos” and “top ten tricks” in order to figure out your writing. This is not a one size fits all concept and therefore should be taken with a great deal of pride. Try what others do, but ultimately decide for yourself what works and doesn’t. This is your piece of writing to be proud of.

READ MORE: On Writing – J.K. Rowling

Snippets of her process!

J.K. Rowling has been very active on her Twitter (@jk_rowling) where she answers questions often about how she writes her books. Here are some snippets of her writing process.

She plans A LOT. J.K. Rowling describes using tables with color coded sections, outlines, character pieces, red herrings, and clues all mixed in. Although she has these detailed plans, things are always subject to change and move as the story grows.

Everything starts with a pen and paper. She writes everything out by hand before typing it up! In a recent tweet by J.K. Rowling, she talks about how she can write anywhere where there is a surface for her paper.

Just start writing! We do the planning and have ideas in our head, but at some point, it is time to just start writing. Rowling recently said to a follower, that if you’re itching to start, then do it. The worst that can happen is that you’ll need to rewrite a bit later.”


What I love about learning about her writing process is that she continues to encourage others to find what works for them (which I am trying to do as well, ahem) and to trust yourself. Your story will never be written if you don’t sit down to write it.

Let me know what you think of the first article in the series “Learning from the Masters” and if any of these strategies might also work for you. Do you write in similar ways? Opposite ways?

Happy writing.

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