Special guest post from Jane Sandwood
They say that wine gets better with age—and guess what? So does your writing. For many different reasons, people tend to associate getting older with losing certain abilities. But for writers, there is no perfect time to start writing or to stop. Rather, every age presents different opportunities for authors to develop their writing craft and begin a career by self-publishing. Writers should realize that growing older is actually said to enhance one’s writing due to the wealth of experience a person can rely on for creative inspiration.
In fact, some of the world’s most celebrated writers didn’t hit their stride—or even start writing—until they were in their fifties or sixties. Frank McCourt, for example, didn’t publish his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Angela’s Ashes until he was 66 years old. And Anita Brookner, who wrote her first book at age 53, went on to write one book per year until she had a repertoire of over 20 novels. Clearly, age is not a hindrance on writing, but should be seen as an advantage—and here’s why.
People used to believe that brain cells slowly died with age, but this isn’t the case. Instead, humans build new neural pathways throughout their lifetime—even throughout old age—and we can even engage in games to keep the brain youthful. This growth can lead to new ideas, thoughts, and perspectives, which in turn will lead to new writing. Our brains are particularly pliant, and their adaptability makes us more capable of tackling challenges, like beating writer’s block or editing an entire manuscript, no matter our age.
Since our brains are always growing and adapting, this makes for writing that is continually progressing and changing in various ways, too. Researchers at the University of Toronto even found that the brain’s left and right hemispheres are able to communicate better when we are middle-aged. Being able to utilize both the “creative” and “logical” side of the brain at once, middle-aged people can tap into a deeper, fuller thought process that may enrich writing.
As we age, we obviously have more life experiences that can contribute to a more well-rounded base of knowledge. A famous quote by Henry David Thoreau summarizes this point: “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” By living through many different life experiences, older writers tend to have more material to draw on. And by standing up to live, writers can feel more confident in the truth of their work and its universality. Furthermore, it can be assumed that one’s vocabulary improves with age, which is obviously advantageous when creating lyrical, memorable prose.
Thus, writers should recognize there are many advantages that come with practicing the craft at every age, and growing older actually means that one’s writing can be improved like never before.
|Jane is a freelance writer and editor. She has written for both digital and print across a wide variety of fields. Her main interest is exploring how people can improve their health and well being in their everyday life. And when she isn't writing, Jane can often be found with her nose in a good book, at the gym or just spending quality time with her family.|
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