My Harry Potter story is unique: I didn’t attend Hogwarts via the book series for the first time until I was 17, almost too old to be a student. The first Harry Potter movie I saw in theaters was Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald in late 2018. I’d heard of Harry Potter growing up, but I had so many other good books to read, I simply never found the time.
But although I fell in love late, I fell hard. On any given day, you can catch me wearing my Ravenclaw Quidditch (est. 1092) sweatshirt, listening to the movie soundtracks, and drinking a butterbeer latte at a coffee shop.
The book series about a young wizard boy is a classic, but for writers, it’s more than just a good story: Analyzing what exactly made the Harry Potter books so successful can help us become better writers. Here are the top things we can learn from Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling (the first self-made billionaire author) to carry over into our own writing careers.Continue reading
As a kid, I loved writing fiction—long, rambling, imaginative stories that didn’t have much structure. So when I took freshman comp in college, I got a rude awakening. An essay? With a beginning, middle, and end? Where I had to stick to the facts? I was in over my head.
It was a steaming hot June day on Main Street in a tiny north Georgia town, and my friend and I were in a used bookstore, browsing, and touching, and smelling to our heart’s content. She picked up an old book and said, “I’m going to buy this to make blackout poetry.”
I’d seen blackout poetry on Pinterest before, and I had only a vague idea of what it was. I nodded and kept browsing.
When we finished shopping, we went back to my friend’s college dorm to sit on her floor and draw. It didn’t occur to me until she picked up a paintbrush what she actually intended to do. I watched in fascination and horror as she confidently covered nearly an entire page in black paint, somehow leaving a beautiful poem layered with meaning from the page of a children’s storybook.
Blackout poetry is an unorthodox art form: You open a book and scan a page, looking for any words or phrases that catch your eye regardless of whether they’re connected. Then you use a marker or paintbrush to fill in everything except those words. The result might look something like a letter from WWII, with text redacted by a censor.
Once I got over the feeling that I’d be condemned forever for taking a paintbrush to a book, blackout poetry became my new favorite thing. Here’s why it’s a great activity for professional writers who may have lost their love for language in the 9-5 workday.Continue reading
“Networking” is a red-letter word for many writers. Often, it invokes the image of a writers’ conference or cocktail event, with strangers standing around eating hors d’oeuvres and making small talk—which is a scenario many introverted writers want to run from (after all, there are reasons we work from home, right?).
But networking comes in all shapes and sizes, which is good, because it’s an essential ingredient for the success of any professional writing career.
The idea of networking is simple: You create and sustain as many relationships as you can in the hopes you’ll get some work from these relationships down the road. And it’s really not as scary as it sounds—networking is as simple as making friends!