(For my writing and want-to-be writer friends…)
JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, doesn’t do many interviews so I eagerly watched her on the Charlie Rose show. Lots of fun stuff related to Harry Potter but I was interested in tidbits related to how she writes:
1) Kill the adverbs! She had a quick throw away comment about how she wishes she could go back to the early Potter novels and strike out all the adverbs. You know, all those +ly words like quickly, loudly, slowly. Mark Twain famously said, “Kill all the adverbs!” and Hemingway lectured against them too. Writing coaches say you should literally never use an adverb, until you’ve mastered writing without them, then you can sneak them on occasion. Adverbs are lazy writing. Instead of a character moving quickly, make them jog, leap, or take huge strides.
2) Writing is work; don’t wait for inspiration to write. Rowling said if she waited for inspiration to write she would have written about a page and a half over the last 20 years. She used to write straight through the night, but now that’s she’s in her forties and has a family, she waits for everyone to go off to school and work and then she sits down and writes for up to eight hours at a time. She says writing is about craft, structure, and the boring things your English teacher tought you. It’s not about inspiration. Another writer friend of mine says, “Do plumbers not fix your sink because they aren’t inspired?”
3) It’s OK to juggling multiple book projects. Thank God! I’ve been really angry with myself lately as I have three (THREE!) book projects started and I’m thinking about a fourth. If I had just focused on one, I think I’d be done by now. Rowling has two books she’s working on simultaneously–one for kids, one for adults–and the children’s novel she actually stared many years ago when she was still working on the Potter series.There’s hope for me yet.
Click here to see the full interview with J.K. Rowling.
Kevin Kruse is a NY Times bestselling author and keynote speaker. Get more success and tips from his newsletter at kevinkruse.com and check out keynote video clips. His new book, Employee Engagement 2.0, teaches managers how to turn apathetic groups into emotionally committed teams.