Why You Can’t Just Tell a Writer to Stop Writing

A few days ago The Huffington Post published a piece by Lynn Sheperd called “If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It.” Essentially, Sheperd’s argument is that J.K. Rowling should stop writing because with her instant success of everything she writes, those of us who aren’t already published authors have a smaller chance of getting published. I find this completely disheartening on many levels.

For one, I’m not going to touch her claims that Harry Potter is meant for children, not adults. That’s a whole other issue that I think those of us who have actually read it can see that it can be enjoyed by ALL ages.

Now, let’s take a look at her implication that J.K. Rowling’s success in things other than “children’s” books are harming undiscovered writers. There are several things wrong with this. One of which is the lack of evidence that Rowling’s success that others are going to suffer. Is there any proof that by publishing The Cuckoo’s Calling that another undiscovered author was not published? Not that I know of. Also, it seems that Rowling’s success outside of “children’s” fiction is the issue. Sheperd seems to be arguing that continued success in one genre wouldn’t cause the same implied consequences as success in other genres.

But all that aside, the thing that really irritates me about this piece is that she is telling Rowling to stop writing if she cares about it. Now, this quote says differently. Sheperd says “By all means keep writing for kids, or for your personal pleasure – I would never deny anyone that – but when it comes to the adult market you’ve had your turn.” But really isn’t telling someone what you can or can’t write essentially telling them you can or can’t write period? Could you imagine stopping something that you are so clearly passionate about because someone thinks that your success is impacting the success of others? I wouldn’t dare tell another person to stop doing what they love doing, no matter how successful they are.  What happens if Sheperd becomes a best seller and wants to branch out into another genre? Should she stop writing then to give all of us undiscovered writers a chance? No. I think it is horrible to tell others not to write, especially when she must understand the feeling a serious and passionate writer has towards writing.

Maybe I’m taking her article in a way it wasn’t meant to be taken. Fine. I just thought it was important to discuss my opinion, just as she discussed hers.

2 thoughts on “Why You Can’t Just Tell a Writer to Stop Writing

  1. I agree! No one tells Danielle Steel or James Patterson to stop writing, so are they keeping unknown writers from being published as well? Writing isn’t always about being published and if you are and can continue to be published, then I don’t see what the big deal is, especially since you’re able to do what you love.

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