How To Write Like J.K. Rowling
J.K. is the first billionaire writer. She single-handedly created a world that has captured the imaginations of millions (if not billions) of people, young and old, around the world. Her stories have been translated into movies and a theme park.
There’s even a website dedicated (or at least named) for writing like Rowling: https://writelikerowling.com/
How do you write like Rowling? Here’s my take:
1. Write in the Spare Moments
“Sometimes you have to get your writing done in spare moments here and there.”
– J.K. Rowling
Unless they are a privileged college student, retired or someone’s trophy husband or wife, most aspiring writers work full time jobs. There may be studies, children and other opportunities that require time and focus.
Every bestselling author started as an unknown writer. Take heart, write in the spare moments of the day – in the morning, at coffee shops, during lunch brakes, at traffic stops, while walking (voice to text) or at night.
2. Fools Rush In
It is well-publicized that J.K. spent five years developing the Harry Potter world and series, plotting out each book.
The wisdom here is to avoid the temptation to rush into the writing. Spend the necessary time developing the story idea before writing the first word. The time you spend will differ from story to story, but take a few days (or weeks, months or years) to shape the story concept into its most compelling form.
For an intensive look at developing your idea, look here: 30 Ways To Rock Your Premise
3. Master the Opening
J.K. rewrote the opening chapter of her first book a total of fifteen times. Dean Koontz is known to rewrite each page of every novel approximately 20 times (if not more).
The key takeaway here is to write as fast as possible and as slow as necessary. Spend extra time on the opening of your story which will be your reader’s introduction to your story (and to you as an author).
Consider rewriting or upgrading your opening between 5-10 times.
Bonus Tip: Look at the openings of all your chapters to see how you can upgrade them as well.
4. Be Careful What You Write
“What you write becomes who you are… So make sure you love what you write!”
Writing something as lengthy as a novel (80K + words) is a major life commitment. A novel is usually written from idea to bookshelf in 1 to 3 years (give or take a decade).
Writing is an intimate experience – the words, themes and characters enact their power on both author and reader. There is no greater immersion than literary creation. Out of the kettle of long-range writing, the author is transformed.
Only write for passion and truth. Anything else is akin to juggling flaming chainsaws. Which, coincidentally, J.K. Rowling practices each morning before she writes….OK, I made that up. She pays others to juggle for her.
5. Rock Bottom Writing
“I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
No matter your past (or present) experience, you can become a published, full-time author. J.K. Rowling powered out of poverty and “rock bottom” through creative writing and creative resourcefulness.
Instead of allowing her challenges to hold her back, she leveraged them to push her forward. She turned weaknesses into strengths by redefining her circumstance and taking massive action toward her “big idea”.
What is holding you back? Let me ask that differently, based on Rowling’s quote: What are you letting hold you back?
6. Transportive Writing
J.K. Rowling offers hope to aspiring writers: “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”
Never give up hope. Focus on mastering your craft, acquaint yourself with story and the power of language to transport readers – this is a key insight into the reason readers flock to certain authors. They go for transportation, for escape.
Write stories that allow readers the freedom of thought, emotion and action. Write epic tales that transport through sensory language.
7. Be Like Austen
When asked what advice she would give to someone who wants to be a full time author, J.K. Rowling echoes the advice of so many other talented, famous and well-known authors: “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.”
Read a lot. Write a lot. These are the two commandments of the writing life. Perhaps the only two that are non-negotiable. Doing both will inform both, improve both and leverage both for your ongoing success.