J.K.Rowling - Creativity and Writing
J.K. (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling (1965- )
English writer (pictured right), famous for Harry Potter.
Her most famous books
Her seven Harry Potter books that have sold over 400 million copies worldwide.
Why is she so creative?
1. Inspiration, learning and experience
The idea of Harry Potter came to her suddenly in 1990 on a train journey from Manchester
Her ideas and characters (nearly 200 of them) came from her reading and experience:
- Harry (pictured right in middle) has her will to win.
- Hermione (pictured right) is based on herself when she was a girl.
- Ron (pictured right) resembles one of her best friends.
- father-like characters (like Dumbledore and Hagrid, pictured right
below) arose from her bad relationship with her father, whom she now doesn’t see.
- the Dementors were inspired by depression after her divorce and her mother’s death
She often gets good ideas doing something else like the washing up or going to the toilet!
- took five years to write the first book as a single mother (after the
inspirational train journey - see point 1)
- used every possible moment (either in her Edinburgh flat or cafés), when her
baby daughter, Jessica, was sleeping.
- exhausted herself writing the first four books, particularly as a mistake in the plot
of Goblet of Fire took three months to correct.
- cares about every little detail (her first book was noticed at the literary agents,
because it was in a lovely black plastic folder!)
The first book (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's
Stone, pictured right) was so different from other children’s books of the time with:
Its Britishness also made it appealing, particularly in America. So she insisted on
British actors in the movies and made sure they were true to the books.
She believes in inventing new ideas not imitating other people’s work.
4. Love for customers
Rowling (pictured right in 2010):
- writes for adults as well as children.
- captivates them all with exciting adventures, believable
characters and magical fun.
“The greatest reward is the enthusiasm of the readers”, she says.
- is never condescending towards children.
- treats them like mature and bright people who can learn valuable
lessons (particularly the triumph of good over evil).
“It is our choices that show what we truly are far more than our abilities”, Dumbledore tells
Her wonderfully imaginative ideas come from:
She makes fantasy seem real.
6. Purpose and pursuit of excellence
Her only ambition has to been to be a writer, and the only thing that stopped her was her fear of
failure and disappointment.
Ironically, her poverty in Edinburgh, with Jessica as a single parent, encouraged her to
write, because she had so little to lose.
She has always wanted to:
- make the most of her talent.
- be the best (and, like Hermione, answer first in class!).
As a regular church goer, she also finds spiritual purpose from her Christian faith.
7. Continuous learning
She learns from:
- constructive criticism (although she needs to ignore all the rubbish told about her
in the media).
- her mistakes (e.g. a rejected adult novel).
Influential books were:
- Elizabeth Goudge, The Little White Horse.
- C. S. Lewis (pictured right above), Chronicles of Narnia.
8. Luck and determination
- wrote Harry Potter at the right time.
- has always made her own luck with hard work and determination.
- had to overcome the tragedies of a painful divorce and her mother’s death from multiple
sclerosis in 1990, aged only 45
Her death inspired the mirror of the Erised, showing the desire you want most like seeing your
She has loved writing, ever since the age of six, when she wrote a book about a rabbit called
Rowling (pictured right with her husband, Neil) planned all the seven Potter books in advance, and she
wrote the last chapter of the last book in 1993.
Her incredible wealth has been the result of her creativity rather than the cause of
Although money isn’t an important motivator for her, it has sometimes helped her writing.
She bought an expensive ring to get her writing Goblet of Fire again after the shock of a
newspaper story by her Portuguese ex-husband.
Reflecting on her previous jobs including one at the charity, Amnesty International, she says:
“I was happier as an impoverished and unpublished writer than I have been as a solvent and mediocre
12. Happiness through suffering
Despite her success, she believes in the Buddhist idea that life is suffering, because all of
the problems she has had.
But they have strengthened her character and made her a better person and writer.
These are her tips for happiness:
- don’t “be constrained by fear of failure”.
- don’t “live up to any expectations but your own”.
- “Find the work in which you can give of your best”.
Key quote on peace of
Self-worth is about finding out what you do best and working hard at it.
Key quote on
We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the
power to imagine better.
Key quotes on writing
Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not...it is the power that enables
us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.
If you’re writing about evil, you genuinely have a responsibility to show what that means.
Key quote on
Find the work in which you can give of your best.