J.K. Rowling may be one of the bestselling authors of all time, but she's never forgotten where she came from. Her roots as a poor single mother struggling to publish an unusual book cause her to help out other beginning authors whenever she can. Rowling's been interviewed on writing hundreds of times, but she emphasizes the same basic lessons each time she's asked.
- Planning is crucial. The worst way to create a great book is to dive into it without any plan at all. It took Rowling five years to create the entire world of Harry Potter and all the included characters and events. Every event that happened in each of the seven books was plotted and planned before she set down the first word in book 1.
- Write in what time you have. One of Rowling's most famous quotes is, "Sometimes you have to get your writing done in spare moments here and there.” The stories of her writing on the subway and in coffee shops at odd moments are the stuff of legend. Most people can't take six months out of their life to write their next novel. If you want to be an author, you have to make the time or steal it, one small bit at a time.
- Rewriting is as essential as planning. Rowling wrote the first chapter of her first book 15 times before she was satisfied. Even with five years' worth of plotting, she still needed rewrites to make her words do what she wanted. Rewriting is a natural part of writing; no one pens the perfect book the first time around. Get your story down, then work on making it better.
- Pay attention to pacing and plot. It's possible to ruin the pacing of a book or series by excitedly telling too much, too soon. After Rowling finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the first book in her series, she realized that she'd let out all the secrets in the entire series. She had to go back and tear the book apart, adding in clues to future books and removing important plot points.
- Write your passion. Rowling has said that what you write becomes who you are, so it's important for you to love what you write. Few people think of her in any way other than as the author of the Harry Potter series. Your books will define who you are in the same way. Write what you love, write what you're proud of, and write books you'd love to read.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be With You!