At first I felt guilty about joining Pottermore and wasting precious hours not writing. This was two days ago. But now, on my third day of “life with Pottermore” I am feeling slightly less guilty. Still guilty, but less so.

Yes, Pottermore is still a massive time-suck that is completely useless (WHY am I obsessed with dueling?! WHY?! I suck at it!), but it’s also helpful for my writing in two ways. One, it’s strangely inspirational. J.K. Rowling, who started off as just a random nobody who spent her off hours writing a novel about a boy wizard, is now one of the most successful authors in history. I can guarantee that I’ll never be as famous or as widely read as J.K. Rowling, but her success story is inspirational nevertheless. I’m not sure why that is — why Rowling and not, say George R.R. Martin? I have no answer for why I find Rowling an inspiration and not Martin, but I do. Perhaps it’s her accessibility. Not the kind of accessibility that lets me know what she had for lunch or which football team she’s rooting for, but accessibility when it comes to her writing life.  And that’s exactly what Pottermore is; it’s accessibility. It allows fans to get access to her writing process and the way her imagination works. I love reading about how authors work, how they get ideas. I love seeing what methods they use, and I love to use some of their methods for my own work. It keeps my mind stimulated and makes the act of writing seem fresh.  So Pottermore *is* helpful in that sense; I’m getting a glimpse into the mind of the Harry Potter author and seeing how she created her stories and her world.

It’s also helpful as part of my “stimuli” theory. When I’m writing a fantasy story, I need fantasy-based stimuli to keep my imagination buzzing. By using the interactive experience of Pottermore, by exploring the world of Harry Potter, I am able to generate ideas for my own fictional world. The swish of a cat’s tail in the darkness of Privet Drive is enough to get my mind racing with story possibilities. The rows upon rows of dusty boxes at Olivander’s stimulate my senses — the smell of the dust; the crinkle of the parched boxes; the pale, hazy light from the storefront window that streaks across the old wizard as he searches the endless stacks. The images and graphics and icons — they all work like little electrical shocks, reanimating my creativity and propelling me to open Scrivener so I can get back to my own novel.

So yes, I should probably spend less time on Pottermore and more time actually writing. But there is a place for Pottermore in my writing life; I just need to make sure I don’t get stuck there.