Careers

J.K. Rowling offers her best advice for anyone determined to succeed

"Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling
Rob Stothard | Getty Images
"Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling

To mark the 20th anniversary of the release of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," the book that launched the worldwide phenomenon, the self-made author and possible billionaire J.K. Rowling took to Twitter to share a message with Harry Potter fans all over the world.

"20 years ago today a world that I lived in alone was suddenly open to others," she writes. "It's been wonderful. Thank you."

An avid Twitter user, Rowling uses the platform to engage with fans, share facts about the Harry Potter world and to offer advice.

Once, back in April, Rowling replied to a tweet from fellow writer Melanie Dione, which said: "HEY! YOU! You're working on something and you're thinking 'Nobody's gonna watch, read, listen.' Finish it anyway."

Rowling quoted the tweet, adding: "There were so many times in the early 90s when I needed somebody to say this to me. It's great advice for many reasons."

She was referring to the days before she became a runaway success. Prior to publishing "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," the author was a struggling single mother, surviving on state benefits.

Rowling went on to encourage writers to see their projects through to the end, saying, "Even if it isn't the piece of work that finds an audience, it will teach you things you could have learned no other way."

"And by the way," she added, "just because it didn't find an audience, that doesn't mean it's bad work."

Rowling pointed out that the act of seeing a creative work through to completion is a feat in and of itself, and one that should make you proud. She also explained that finishing something big can generate the momentum you need to persevere through the next project.

"Maybe your third, fourth, fiftieth song/novel/painting will be the one that 'makes it,' that wins the plaudits," she said. "But you'd never have got there without finishing the others (all of which will now be of more interest to your audience)."

Though Rowling is specifically speaking to creative pursuits, her underlying advice can be applied to anyone determined to succeed: Never give up.

Rowling's not alone in this mindset. Psychologist and MacArthur "Genius" fellow Angela Duckworth spent years researching achievement, and found that talent by itself is only one factor. Success also requires determined effort, and lots of it.

"Without effort, your talent is nothing more than your unmet potential," Duckworth writes in her book, "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance."

Whether you're writing a novel, building a company, or reaching for a promotion, take a page out of Rowling's book and make yourself follow through.

Here's the full set of Rowling's tweets, in chronological order: