This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.
I was in my mid-twenties when I made a shocking discovery: Not everyone wanted to be a writer when they grew up.
I thought dreaming of being a writer was as ubiquitous as wanting to be an astronaut or a ballerina. Didn’t everyone fall in love with the first typewriter they ever saw, copy their favourite books into notepads and ‘self-publish’ their work at age 5 with cardboard and sticky tape?
As it turns out, the answer is ‘no.’
With this discovery came a realisation: My childhood dream wasn’t just a childish notion. It was an insight into my true self. And I was in the happy position of being able to fulfil that dream.
How many people can say they accomplished a wish they had from childhood?
If you are reading this, then you have the urge inside you to write. Maybe it appeared early in your life, or maybe it’s just emerging now. The important thing to realise is: This urge is valid and deserves to be nurtured.
If you feel an affinity with the written word, then you have an exciting medium in which to express yourself. In our day and age, writing and have those words read by others is easier than ever.
I Put Words Together, Therefore I am a Writer
Before we go any further, let’s define the term ‘writer.’
The simplest definitions is: a person who writes.
It can’t really be that easy, you say. There’s much more to it. You have to take it seriously and have stuff actually published.
Those are all possible aspects of being a writer, but the term ‘writer’ at its most basic simply means ‘a person who writes,’ the same as a cleaner is a person who cleans, a planner is a person who plans and a drawer is a person who slides horizontally out of a desk or chest of…oh, wait, scratch that last one.
If you feel the need to write words, to express yourself in written form, then you are – at heart – a writer.
But aren’t there more requirements?
Well, let’s take a look, shall we?
You’re Never Too Young to Write
As soon as a person is old enough to start talking, they can start spinning stories.
One of my favourite literary treasures is a small, handmade booklet created by a close friend and her young daughter. My friend transcribed her daughter’s quirky but riveting story onto the pages and then they chose appropriate pictures to include. Yes, from the first sentence you can tell her age (not yet old enough to start school), but that doesn’t mean her words are any less valuable in the reader’s eyes – in fact it adds extra meaning to them.
Some might say that a young person cannot fully understand the world and therefore their writing will fall short of what their older counterparts accomplish. With all due respect, that’s complete hogwash for several reasons.
- There is no reason why a young person’s voice is any less valid than an older person’s. They see things from a unique perspective. Yes, it may be naïve and perhaps even ill-informed, but it’s a voice that should be captured, if only so that person can look back on their words later in life.
- A youthful perspective reveals aspects of a subject which may be missed by other writers. At the very least, their perspective may help older readers relate to a younger generation by seeing the world through their words. Young people also have a pure and innocent way of looking at the world which often shows fascinating depths to the subjects they cover.
- What human has ever been able to fully understand the world? As we grow older, we will better understand certain aspects of life and the areas we live in, but we will never understand everything. If we’ve always lived in the same place, we won’t fully understand what it’s like to live in another country. If we’ve lived in other countries, we’ll never fully understand what it is like to spend our life in one spot. You see how it goes. We are all inexperienced in something, but that hasn’t held other people back. Why should it hold back the young?
Young people should be encouraged to share their stories and their writing voice. The earlier they start, the more opportunity they have to learn.
You’re Never Too Old to Write
If we flip the coin, similar things could be said about older people. An in-depth knowledge of technology is not necessary for writing. Remember the good ol’ paper and pen?
Older people have memories to record and insight to impart. Never sell yourself short by underestimating what you have accomplished in your life. Each lifetime has its own wealth of experience.
Writing also provides an important purpose in life. After retirement, it is common to feel a sense of loss from no longer being tethered to a day job. Starting on a writing project (memoir, novel, a collection of poems) can provide a new and exciting channel for your energies.
What if you’re not in the young category or the older category? If you haven’t got the message yet, let me say it again: There is no age limit to writing. If you’re breathing, you can be writing.
Tune in next week for the second half of this chapter.
Do you call yourself a writer? What are some myths you’ve heard about the writing life? Leave a comment below and let me know.
Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat. Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion. Thanks for dropping by.