A friend said to me recently, “I wanted to be a writer when I was young. I even studied journalism, but then life got in the way. Now, I’m too old to write.”
This woman is, let’s just say, older. We’re about the same age.
“You’re not too old to write!” I said. “I’m older—and I write.”
“But you’ve worked in publishing your whole adult life. It’s your career.”
Age should never deter a person from pursuing a dream. Whether it’s writing or anything else. But age might require a dream to be modified. As our conversation continued I asked if she wanted to write for fun or for publication.
She said, “I’d love to be published.”
“That’s possible,” I said. “But first you should write because it’s fun and it’s something you want to do. There are no age limits on creativity. In fact, now that you’re older, you have more experience to draw from and that can mean richer content.”
She had reached an age when she didn’t need to juggle her writing time with raising kids and a job and other life-gets-in-the-way things. I pointed out that now she had time to write and finally pursue her dream.
“Don’t allow age to be your enemy, ” I said. “Don’t listen when it says, ‘You’re too old to write’. Just write because you love it—but if you want to get published, you’ll have some work to do.”
We talked a lot about technology. She had slipped behind keeping up with the software writers use not only to write but also to edit and track changes. She didn’t know about the vast array of online learning opportunities. She wasn’t familiar with social media and how to network there. She hadn’t considered the ways the publishing business has changed in the decades since she’d studied journalism or that most publishers no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts.
“Whether you want to self-publish or go the traditional route, you’ll need to dig in, learn, and get up to speed,” I told her. “Writing is a creative art, and it requires mastery. Write because you want to write, but then be willing to learn how to write even better. You’re never too old to take classes, to join a local writers’ group, to get on social media and connect with writers of all ages . . . and you’re never too old to get your work published.”
Maybe, like my friend, you are older and thinking about writing for publication. You are more prepared for the journey now than your younger self might have been. You are better equipped to use skills you’ve honed with age, skills like patience, perseverance, good judgment, problem solving, self-motivation. Add those to your talent and creativity.
Anna Sewell wrote Black Beauty when she was in her 50s.
Laura Ingalls Wilder made notes and started writing her Little House books when she was in her 40s, but it wasn’t until she was in her 60’s she published.
Frank McCourt after retiring from a teaching career wrote his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, Angela’s Ashes. He was in his 60s.
Richard Adams told bunny stories to his daughters. They asked him to write the stories down. Later in life, those stories amalgamated into a book, Watership Down, published when Adams was in his 50s.
Bump up your confidence level. Dust off that old dream. Decide how to modify it to align with where you are right now at your present age.
Don’t allow age to become an issue, instead use it to your advantage. You are much smarter and wiser now than you used to be. Do your best to think and act young, because if your writing does get published you will likely be working with editors younger than yourself. Stop saying you’re technologically challenged and feeling overwhelmed by it, instead commit to learning the technology one step at a time. “I’m too old to write,” is an excuse. You are never too old to be a writer, and it’s not too late to get published—if you are willing to do the work.
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