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Advice for Aspiring Writers - By Age

1-10 years old: You must learn to walk before you can write. Crawl first if you need to, then learn to hold a pencil. Drawing unicorns will help you train your imagination, and playing with dragons will keep it fit. Play all you can - you may not get the chance later.

11-20 years old: Love your life or learn to live with it. Make friends, lose friends, and learn what humans are like. YOU CAN WRITE ANYTHING AT THIS AGE. Remember, it's only hormones. Remember, it's nothing to be ashamed of. And remember your teenage years, always. No matter what comes later, this is when it really happened

21-30: This is your moment of grandeur. Write while you can before the kids come tumbling into your life, before the mortgage trap slams shut behind you. Have all the fun that ink and paper can give you. Remember the imagination from your childhood? Use it to remain young even as your friends grow old.

31-40: So, the kids arrived with the mortgage instead of the stork? The car needs fixing and the weeds need weeding, and the diapers don't change themselves. Make the dreary hours of dark your friend, and wring the writing time from your calendar like water from a desert agave: One painful pinprick at a time. Rinse and repeat. Make friends with Java, Espresso, and the Earl of Grey. This is your life, and it's what some people believe is a fantasy come true. Prove them right or wrong as you see fit.

41-50: Past forty? Looking aft and seeing your wake, calculating where you're heading? That's wisdom you're looking at, and that's what you're packing into your writing. Insights about what it means to be human. The youngsters racing by have all read the 21-30 step, but speedy doesn't matter if they write three words of crap for every drip of honey from your pen. If they're all capitalizing on Facebook or social media, wisdom will prompt you to follow suit and add content.

51-60: The façade of the world falls before your eyes. You know about business by now - or you'd have died hungry long ago. You won't be fooled by the world's blustery, you won't be distracted by dreams of a career in business, and if imagination is still part of you, you'll give your readers a look behind the scenes of The World That Really Is.  

61-70: You're now so wise that you don't need my advice, particularly about the past. "When I was a kid" is a favorite phrase. "Before you were even born" is another. One piece of advice, though: Don't start writing a series like 'A Song of Ice and Fire' at this age. You'll likely croak before you finish it and end up antagonizing your fans.

71-80? You're in your writing prime. At conventions you'll automatically be seen as the wise oracle for writing advice. (So please keep your mouth shut if you don't know what you're talking about.) A lifetime of of seen-it-all has settled on your soul, making imagination your new best friend. Still remember your teenage years? Imagine what it'd be like reliving them - and try to make sense of the experience this time around.

80+: You're not going to live forever, so if you haven't already, you might as well start now. Throw away the pen, grab the girls (or boys) and go dancing in the sunset. Believe me, you want to die happy with your head between a woman's legs instead of facedown on a manuscript. Alternatively, you can write a better list of advice for writers of all ages.

Question of the day: How old do you feel?

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Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
vaughan_stanger
Jan. 17th, 2013 03:11 pm (UTC)
I'd better crack on, then!

:-)
jakobdrud
Jan. 17th, 2013 09:37 pm (UTC)
I take it you're feeling twentyish and raring to go?
vaughan_stanger
Jan. 17th, 2013 09:52 pm (UTC)
Close but no cigar ;-)
bogwitch64
Jan. 17th, 2013 03:36 pm (UTC)
I love this. :)

I feel age-appropriate according to these guidelines--41-50. Though I do admit, I dip into the 21-30. For ME, I'd have to switch the 21-30 and the 31-40 around, because I had my kids and time-poor days in my 20s, and my heyday in my 30s.
jakobdrud
Jan. 17th, 2013 09:36 pm (UTC)
I thought that kids would drop by in somebody's twenties - or even teens. Life only matches blog posts to a certain extent.

Also, from what I've read of your fiction and on your blog, you've got a lot of wisdom to show the world :-)
bogwitch64
Jan. 17th, 2013 10:31 pm (UTC)
Awww, thanks!

Hey, does this mean I'm ageless? Because that sounds good to me!
jongibbs
Jan. 17th, 2013 04:58 pm (UTC)
For as long as I can remember I've been 29, going on 12 :)
jakobdrud
Jan. 17th, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you've got the best plan EVER! Let me know when you're underage so I can moderate my blog contents ;-)
wendigomountain
Jan. 17th, 2013 09:11 pm (UTC)
This was some really great stuff. I prolonged my 30's though, starting in my 20's with kids and then having more kids in my 30's. For the next decade, it's all toil, but at least I pushed my lifespan into the centigenarian decades. :)
jakobdrud
Jan. 17th, 2013 09:42 pm (UTC)
Yep, the thirties happen to some people. Mine started in my late twenties, but my kids are 5 and 8 now - that makes some things so much easier than when they're 1 and 4.

I've been reading your blog posts lately, and I hope you gain some perspective on your life as well (regardless of age).
wendigomountain
Jan. 17th, 2013 09:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jakob. My life is often turbulent (a lot done by my own hand). There are times I'm ashamed I share so much. But I'm glad I haven't chased off a reader. Your post was chock full of perspective and like a cool drink of water on a hot day. Thank you!
livejournal
Jan. 18th, 2013 04:31 pm (UTC)
Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e January 18, 2013
User jongibbs referenced to your post from Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e January 18, 2013 saying: [...] (Colby Marshall) Advice for Aspiring Writers - By Age [...]
mary_j_59
Jan. 19th, 2013 02:07 am (UTC)
I love this! so encouraging, for all ages. I'm here from Jon Gibbs's livejournal, btw.
jakobdrud
Jan. 19th, 2013 01:34 pm (UTC)
Hi, nice to meet you :-)
musingaloud
Jan. 19th, 2013 02:38 am (UTC)
Depends on which day it is how old I feel. Today = 137
jakobdrud
Jan. 19th, 2013 01:33 pm (UTC)
Hurrah! That means you get to dance into the sunset. Or sleep and wake up a hundred years younger - Sleeping Beauty in reverse ;-)

musingaloud
Jan. 19th, 2013 03:14 pm (UTC)
Hurrah then indeed. I like the reverse Sleeping Beauty idea!
glynisj
Jan. 20th, 2013 02:22 pm (UTC)
As a person in her fifties, I can tell you that business is a sham. Writing is so much more rewarding.
jakobdrud
Jan. 21st, 2013 10:01 am (UTC)
Now in my late thirties, and I already agree. I do know a lot of small-business owners, who are very happy with what they do, but... well, none of them are writers ;-)
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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