It’s been said that age is but a number. However it seems that when it comes to writing, in some circles, age is certainly more. It is a cut off, a line, an arbitrary line in the sand about those who are worthy and those who are not.
And here I was thinking that writing was all about having a story to tell.
A while ago I attended a blogging thing; a number of esteemed writers filled out the panel and it was said multiple times that to be taken seriously as a writer, you need to be at least 35. For your writing to be credible. For your voice to be heard.
Apparently your heart needs to be broken for you to write with passion, and apparently you haven’t suffered heartbreak until after 35.
I wasn’t the only who found this a perplexing, and to be honest, a statement driven from a privileged (dare I say it, white middle class) upbringing. To state that heartbreak isn’t felt until 35…? Really? So those children from broken homes, or those children of immigrant parents, or those who have lost ones they love far too young – that’s not heartbreak?
And when I did a quick google search, I would suggest that both publishing rates, as well as sales, don’t support this premise either – with plenty of popular writers aged under that magic number. Even historical literature doesn’t comply, with Shakespeare being a young’un at only 31 when he wrote Romeo and Juliet. Clearly he was not a voice worth listening to.
At one point, as the conversations around us continued, I leant over to the friend I was there with and said “if my heart breaks any more before I am 35, I may not survive it”.
Fast forward a few months and I was at ProBlogger just last week, and the key message I took away was probably to just write. Write. Write and then when in doubt, keep writing.
Your age, your background, your position in life has nothing to do with it. Just write.
And that’s how it should be.
Writing shouldn’t be an exclusive group for those over 35, who have experienced heartbreak and want to write about it.
It should be for anyone with a story to tell, something to share, a skill to celebrate. It should be for those who are dedicated enough to write, write and keep writing, even when writers block cripples all your ideas and your self confidence is crushed into the floor. It should be for those who write for connection, or simply to get it out of their heads knowing it will never be published.
If you want an audience, they will find you. If you write about teenage fashion, you can bet there will be teenagers who want to read it. If you write about lipsticks, or shoes, or breastfeeding, or home schooling, or gardening, or wine, or restaurants, or whatever your heart desires, you can bet someone out there will connect with it. Your age won’t come into it.
Of course your writing will mature as you do. It will evolve and change, as it should, to reflect where you are in your life and the skills you have learned along the way. And honestly, in all likelihood, your audience will evolve along with you – as they move along in their own lives.
So instead of listening to all the rules, I am following only one; a writer is someone who writes.