Do you know what kind of writer you are? Whether you’re a courageous Gryffindor, a wise Ravenclaw. or a clever Slytherin like me, the chances are that you are pursuing a quest to become a great writer.
Yesterday I received two rejections for my novel. A few years ago that would have brought me to tears and made me question myself, but no longer.
Why? Because as I know that it’s all part of the journey to succeeding as a writer. And that got me thinking about Hogwarts.
To be a good writer, you can take up any of the Hogwarts houses’ characteristics, but to be a great writer, you should embrace your inner Hufflepuff.
These badger-loving Hufflepuffs are described by HarryPotterfandom.com as:
“…the most inclusive among the four houses; valuing hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty, and fair play rather than a particular aptitude in its students. Hufflepuffs were known to have a strong moral code, and a sense of right and wrong. “
Whether you identify with Gryffindors, Slytherins, or Ravenclaws, it’s time to apply some Hufflepuff traits to your writing. So let’s see what that entails.
Hard work - If writing was easy, everyone would do it. And a lot of people are, but not everyone is destined to be a great writer. Lots of people fail to finish a book. Lots of folks think that a first draft is gold and forget to polish their writing.
If you’re reading this, you’re different.
You want to complete that book, make it a stellar piece of writing. Not everyone may make millions but some of us Hufflepuff writers land agents, get book deals, advances, all the goodies, and that’s all down to hard work.
Dedication - You have to devote time to your craft. ‘I have no time is not an excuse. To be successful, you have to make time. Think of yourself as a competitive athlete. To reach the Olympics, you have to set aside time to write, rewrite, and write again. So cut short your Netflix binge-watching, pull out your pen and journal before bed to plot, or sit down for ten minutes before work to write.
Patience – Querying agents and publishers is great, but they can take months to get back to you. In January, I was still getting rejections from queries I sent in October. Be patient and work on your craft. You wouldn’t sit by the phone waiting for a boyfriend/girlfriend to call, so don’t haunt your inbox. They’ll get back to you in good time.
Loyalty – Embrace your inner Hufflepuff and be loyal to your fellow writers. Join writers’ circles and revision groups, and find critique partners and help them out even when they may be too busy to return the favour. A little bit of loyalty goes a long way.
Fair play – In short, don’t be a jerk. If an agent rejects your work, don’t harass them asking why they didn’t like it. Don’t stalk them on Twitter or send them DMs. Don’t make your successful writing acquaintances feel guilty about their accomplishments. Don’t be overly pedantic about others’ faults, like if people get the rules wrong in pitch contests. For someone, it’s their very first time taking part and nothing shatters a person’s confidence like a stranger telling them where they went wrong.
Also, if you don’t play nice, you’ll become known as someone horrible to work with, which can earn you an author reputation for all the wrong reasons.
I’ll add an extra one here: Perseverance. Do you think Hufflepuff Cedric Diggory gave up in the Goblet of Fire? Nope. He was killed (sorry if you didn’t know) before he was able to finish his quest. In a writing context, think to yourself, how many times did your favorite author query agents and publishers before their book was picked up? Lots.
Don’t give up. Slytherins don’t, and neither should you.
About the Author: In 2014, E.L.Johnson won the Sci-Fi London Film Festival’s 48 hour Flash Fiction challenge. She is the author of two novels and six of her short stories have been published in anthologies.
When not penning stories, she runs the social media account for the Hertford Writers’ Circle and organises the London Seasonal Book Club, a monthly book club with over 2400 members. Prior to the pandemic, she hosted a book club with Bloomsbury Publishing and they plan to hold more book clubs meetings together.