The Late Start: Advantage #1


Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
– George Bernard Shaw


There are many advantages to starting a writing career later in life. The first one on my list is that seniors have a lot of life experience and have had a lot of time to evaluate that experience. Whether he (or she) has made good decisions or bad ones in his youth, the senior writer has, hopefully, gathered some wisdom and insight to pass along. This may be about avoiding bad decisions or how to recover from them.

That does not mean that old feelings will not surface when you start to put these things down in story form. I do not think that painful memories and emotions can be completely avoided, certainly not if you want to become a writer. Writing is often emotionally draining and that in turn can make you feel physically tired. Because of this, some people feel that means that it’s not worth doing or, that they are doing it wrong. If you want to write, you must learn to move past these discouraging thoughts. Get some rest or exercise and then try again the next day when you have more energy. Eventually, you will learn to deal with these issues more effectively.

All good stories require conflict. Incorporating a personal experience into a story helps give it authenticity because it is based on the reactions of real people. When I was younger and made some stabs at writing, I found that some things were too difficult to write about because I was still too close to the people or the events that I was drawing my material from. The bad news is that you may find some things never become something you can write about easily. The good news is that other embarrassing or painful episodes that occurred in your life, or to someone close to you, which were too difficult to tackle in your youth may be much easier when you have some distance (in years) from the actual events. You may even find the humor in them and use that humor to bring color and life to your writing.

The prevailing youth culture in this age tends to dismiss people as they grow old and as we sometimes come to feel invisible to others, we may think that it means no one will want to read our stories either. Unfortunately, many people avoid passing on the rich personal history that they have stored up in their own unique lives because they feel no one will find it interesting. I think this is a shame because one of the things that sets human beings apart from the animal world is that our young thrive when they have the support of grandparents and older mentors. Human beings are given the gift of living well beyond our reproductive years because the children of this, and every, age need to read our stories.

So, don’t wait. Start writing.


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