Five great writing tips from J.K. Rowling

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These days, J.K. Rowling is a household name all over the world – the first billionaire author on the planet and the creator of a world that many of us can’t imagine life without. But how did unpublished writer Joanne Kathleen Rowling turn into this superstar? Here are five great writing tips from J.K. Rowling: how to write a book from one of the most successful writers on earth.

1.    Write in whatever time you have
One of J.K. Rowling’s most famous quotes is: “Sometimes you have to get your writing done in spare moments here and there.” It’s easy for us to imagine successful writers spending all day penning beautiful paragraphs, but everybody had to start somewhere – and that somewhere included full-time work and stolen pockets of time to write. Much as it might be a dream to take six months out to write your book, odds are you’re going to have to fit it into your everyday life if you want it to become a reality.

2.    Planning is essential
Instead of diving right into line 1, paragraph 1, J.K. Rowling advises taking the time to plan out the world your books will live in. She took five years to create and develop every last detail of the Harry Potter world, right down to how the Wizards and Muggles interacted (and the word Muggles, to begin with!) what the education was like, how magic helped in every day life and how the wizarding world of government worked. She also plotted out all the events of the seven books before she started writing the first.

3.    Rewriting is just as essential
You would think after five years, J.K. Rowling would just be able to dive right in there and write the whole of the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, without much rewriting. But in fact she rewrote the opening chapter of her first book a total of fifteen times, until it was just right. It’s easy to imagine published authors writing with the greatest of ease, but actually the process is just as difficult for them.

4.    Be aware of plot and pacing

Even when you’ve plotted out all seven of the books you want to write in a series, you can trip yourself up. In fact, that’s one of the big things to be aware of when you’ve done the necessary planning: even though you know what’s going to happen next, your readers shouldn’t. They need to have a sense of excitement and uncertainty as the plot and pacing unfolds. After J.K. Rowling finished the first book in the Harry Potter series, she realised she’d given away the whole plot of the series – all seven books! So she had to rewrite it, and hold back a number of integral plot points.

5.    Write your passion
Perhaps my favourite J.K. Rowling quote is: “What you write becomes who you are… So make sure you love what you write!” One of the reasons the Harry Potter books are so infectious is because you can tell she really loves the world she created – and all the characters in them. If you’re going to approach your book in a half-hearted manner, there’s no point even beginning it. Make sure you’re passionate about what you write and you’ll draw your readers along with you… And create a life full of magic, just as J.K. Rowling has done!

Want to find out more about this inspiring author? Read our post on Who J.K. Rowling was before Harry Potter by clicking here or get some Publishing advice from J.K. Rowling here. We also have a great video where J.K. Rowling speaks about failure here.

Ready to write the next Harry Potter? Now Novel is the easy way to write a book. Try our story builder – a step-by-step way to outline your novel. You could join J.K. Rowling in the ranks of the published authors.

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  • Ashley

    I love this post – great tips. I didn’t realize she’d planned the whole series from the beginning! That’s fascinating.

  • Dano Sab

    Look closely, if you see Genius, your right.

  • 히다야툰니사

    i re-write a couple here and there..there are times that i feel to give up all the my entire work and re-write everything from scatch, but i end up throwing the re-write version because it didnt mix well with my original writing tone..

    • That is a tricky challenge. I think the key is to rewrite and try keep in mind that it is the story and characters you want to tighten up, rather than the style (a professional editor can always help with that).

  • Ana Calin

    I love J.K. so much. Currently reading the third book of the Cormoran Strike novels and the way she makes a man without a leg downright sexy and the plot and her finesse, and and and and and inspires me so much. Keep’em coming, J, you’re an inspiration. She is also completely right. If you truly write with passion, you do it whenever you. Between writing two bills and fixing the kid’s meal. Passion requires sacrifice. Because only these two ensure that you’re any good. This is what I take away from J’s story and her tips.

    • Thanks for that Ana – I also love the way she interacts with her fans on social media – she seems a truly generous and genuine person.

  • Tim Lilly

    What she said is very true. With two novels under my belt and readying to publish a third I can attest to the rules/guidelines listed. I discovered them all on my own and follow them religiously. I now have two separate coinciding trilogies with multiple story line crossover points; incorporating real historical events, personal experiences, and they all reinforce each other making them all the more believable. #TimLillyNovels

    • Congrats on finishing your third novel, Tim. You’re both right that a novel has multiple creative sources and it’s important that each contributes satisfyingly to the whole

  • Princess Shealy

    I love the advise and it will assist with taking the essential steps to following my dreams.

  • Princess Shealy

    I love J Rowling’s ambition and passion with create a novel that keeps imagination fun to explore.

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