Writing After Age 50–It’s Never Too Late—Part II

In my last post, Writing After Age 50–It’s Never Too Late, I shared the advantages of being an older writer. Today, I want to add several quotes from the late author, Ursula K. Le Guin. (You might remember being a child and reading her wonderful “Catwings” book series. Ms. Le Guin is also well-known for her speculative fiction, 21 novels, 11 volumes of short stories, essays, and poetry.) She said:

“If you want to strike out in any new direction—you go alone. With a machete in your hand and the fear of God in your heart.”

As an older writer venturing into the world of publishing for the first time, you might be afraid to take that first step into the unfamiliar. But, think about it—how many times in your life have you taken that first step? Beginning with the first day of school when you were a child you’ve stepped into the unknown again and again, and it’s turned out all right. This is nothing new. You’ve been here before. You’ve been given all the life-tools you need. You have faith. God is on your side. Just take that first step and start walking.

“The whole process of getting old — it could have been better arranged. But you do learn some things just by doing them over and over and by getting old doing them. And one of them is, you really need less. And I’m not talking minimalism, which is a highly self-conscious mannerist style I can’t write and don’t want to. I’m perfectly ready to describe a lot and be flowery and emotive, but you can do that briefly and it works better. My model for this is late Beethoven. He moves so strangely and quite suddenly sometimes from place to place in his music, in the late quartets. He knows where he’s going and he just doesn’t want to waste all that time getting there. But if you listen, if you’re with it, he takes you with him. I think sometimes about old painters — they get so simple in their means. Just so plain and simple. Because they know they haven’t got time. One is aware of this as one gets older. You can’t waste time.”

You can’t waste time. If you want to write, this is your moment. Think about times in your past when you’ve stumbled. How did those times change you? What did you learn? Chances are you’ve picked up solid life lessons along the way. You’ve learned to toss out what’s unimportant and make what’s important even better. Think about this—what simple life lessons have you learned that you can apply to this new writing adventure?

“Go on and do your work. Do it well. It is all you can do.” 

What are you waiting for? What’s holding you back? If you are serious about being a writer, it’s not too late. But you have to get going! Start working. Write as well as you are able; it’s all you can do. As you write, the more you write, you will find yourself learning and improving. Who knows what you might accomplish in these next decades of your life?

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Writing After Age 50–It’s Never Too Late.

It wasn’t until I took a children’s literature course in college that I discovered the “Little House” books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The series was published decades earlier between 1932 and 1943. I was a late bloomer joining the Little House Fan Club. Laura was a late bloomer herself. She published the first book, Little House in the Big Woods, when she was 64.

Maybe, like Laura, you are older than 50 and thinking about writing a book. It could be you don’t know where to begin and the path to publication feels overwhelming. Talent has no expiration date. You are never too old to learn.

Henry Ford said—
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

There are advantages to being an older writer.

  • You’ve collected years of life experiences younger writers might not have, for example growing into a deeper relationship with your spouse through years of marriage, raising your children to adulthood, making it through heart-wrenching valleys and soaring to the heights of celebration.
  • If you are a reader, you’ve likely read thousands of books equalling thousands of examples of good and bad writing.
  • You have more time now to write than when you were younger.

So, where to begin?
First, think about these questions:

What do you want to write?
Why do you want to write?
What rewards to you expect from writing?
Think about the skills and talents you acquired that moved you forward from your first job to where you are today. How might you apply those to starting a new career as a writer?

Next, recognize that writing for publication is a business. It takes work, ambition and fortitude to get published. Most important, it requires learning. Study and learn the steps to getting published traditionally or by self publishing. There are many guides online to get you started.

One of the best resources, in my opinion, is Jane Friedman’s web site. Jane is a writer and consultant with more than twenty years experience in the publishing industry. You will find tons of free advice and resources on her page.

Remember to stay current. Avoid boarding the mental time machine that spits out phrases like, “When I was young . . . back then . . . I remember when . . .” Don’t put a date stamp on your forehead. Even if you plan to write a memoir or an historical novel find an angle that feels new, fresh and exciting. Keep up with current trends. Connect with younger writers who can provide you with a fresh look at writing and publishing in the 21st century.

Finally, set realistic expectations, and stay positive. You’ve worked hard all your life. This is your time now. Enjoy writing. Love it at its core. Author, Annie Proulx, said, “You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page.” Write for the joy of writing.

“No one has ever achieved anything from the smallest to the greatest unless the dream was dreamed first.” —Laura Ingalls Wilder

You’ve dreamed of being a writer. It’s never too late to get started turning that dream into reality.

___________________________

If you are on Facebook, Check out my page
where I post articles and inspiration for writers.

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*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.

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