When I ask writers what they think their chances are of becoming the next golden star in terms of published authors, I am often greeted by shrugs or even laughter. It’s as if we don’t believe it is possible to recreate her success or achievements.
Before she became famous, she was a struggling writer. It’s been well documented that she had financial problems and used to write her Harry Potter stories tucked away in a little cafe in Edinburgh often struggling to purchase even a second cup of coffee. So what did she do that many writers across the globe do not? She didn’t give up. She carried on writing and came up with an excellent idea at just the right time.
Few of us would deny that she has a great imagination but, she also puts her creativity to work and so many people don’t. They think about writing, they talk about writing but do very little actual writing. In the main, this is the difference between achieving success or failure. You have to think about your personal incentive. It may not be the millions tucked away in her bank, although, wouldn’t that be nice? Sometimes, we just want public accreditation for our creative output.
No doubt that her stories had mass appeal. They reached and inspired millions of people of all ages and that’s not easy to do. Her words transported adults back to their childhood years and held them spellbound with tales of wizardry, witches and the fight of good against evil. The stories had all the necessary ingredients to make it believable.
We had poor Harry who was ill-treated and unloved. We saw that he was vulnerable and we love the underdog. We noticed his struggle to fit in and watched him developing friendships with eagerness. We recognised his need of a father figure and of course, his stubbornness and tenacity in the face of danger.
When you look at the bare bones of any story, you begin to see the vital ingredients.
Although these stories are still popular, trends move on. The next big story may be totally different. You must use your own imagination and determination to be able to craft a story that can be developed fully and one that will capture the imaginations of those who read it.
It doesn’t have to be about wizards and witches, or even children. It can be about adult issues and current dilemmas, in fact, anything that hooks your attention and makes you dedicated to the process of writing. It’s important to remember that the only thing that stops you from achieving creative success is you.
As a teacher of creative writing and journalism and as an editor, I see the difference between those who think about writing as a hobby and those who really write with intent. But even those who express themselves with the written word and who do not have any ambitions of being published, can still reach or exceed their potential by writing more often. They can bury themselves deep within the story and feel the pleasure of being a part of something that develops and which was crafted in their imagination. One little idea can change your world.
I doubt J K Rowling knew that success would be hers. She hoped, she worked at it and somehow, everything tumbled into place. There were no guarantees. Sometimes, you do have to hit upon the story that comes along at just the right moment. But, you do have to actually write it. You have to live and breathe it.
You should also study the market, look at what publishers are taking on, think about where the next trend may be but above all else, write about something that inspires you. You have to be able to step into your make-believe world at a moment’s notice. You have to be able to develop the characters, pay attention to their needs and desires. You have to play God with your story and bring it to life. Only you can do it. Find your intent. Find your ambition and dust off your creativity.