When you are a creative person, oftentimes you have to struggle with failure. It can be very difficult to convince others that your creative endeavors are worthwhile. J.K. Rowling was no stranger to failure. Thirty years ago she was a single mother between jobs and was running out of money. She was trying to be a writer but was unable to get a book deal. Her prospects seemed bleak, she thought she was doomed for failure, but she would not give up. Then one day she had a revelation.
“I was traveling to London on a crowded train, and the idea for Harry Potter simply fell into my head. To my immense frustration, I didn’t have a pen that worked, but I do think that this was probably a good thing. I simply sat and thought, for four hours, while all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn’t know he was a wizard became more and more real to me.
Perhaps, if I had slowed down the ideas to capture them on paper, I might have stifled some of them. I began to write Philosopher’s Stone that very evening”.
It took her several years to get her first Harry Potter book published. Though her struggles were difficult she used them to her advantage. She turned her bouts of depression into characters for her stories, namely the Dementors.
“Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. Depression is very different.”
Just two years later the first Harry Potter book was published and success soon followed. She credits some of that success to not letting her failures get her down.
“Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.”