Fiction, Life, Opinion, Power, Real Life, Writing

Why age makes you a better writer

A few days ago, I confessed that I once burned books. I am not proud of that action, but while reading your comments, I realized something. I do not regret being the person who committed that act. I don’t regret being any previous version of me. I believe they were all necessary to make me the person I am today—someone I sort of like.

Towanda in action!

I used to envy those of you who are writing seriously at a young age—and young being relative, that means most of you, as far as I’m concerned. But you know what? To paraphrase the great Towanda*: “Face it girls, I’m older than you and I have more experience.”

I’m able to write from a different perspective. Think about this: at the age of twelve, fifteen … even twenty, could you have written with the depth you can today?

We are admonished to write what you know, and because of my advanced years, I’ve accumulated a good bit of knowledge—mostly trivial, yes, but what better use for trivia than to spice up your writing?

Write what you know can also mean write what you know from an emotional level. The older you are, the deeper the emotional well you have to draw from. Even pain can be used for good. You must have lived in order to write about life.

Of course, some you youngins have probably lived far more exciting lives than I have, but for the sake of my argument, I’ll ignore that. Age makes you a better writer. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

* If you haven’t read Fried Green Tomatoes (or seen the movie) you really must.

45 thoughts on “Why age makes you a better writer”

  1. I’ve been thinking about this age thing a lot lately, too, especially since I’m, well, old — or at least mature, experienced, been-around-the-block. I have more to say now than I did when I was in my 20’s, and I definitely have more patience now — to see patterns, connections, paradoxes, whatever — that can add complexity and depth to a story.

    I think good writing gets at universal emotions — love, fear, grief, hope — that are ageless and can be written about from any age or perspective. Experience doesn’t hurt, though, in adding to the richness of the writing.

    Thanks for getting some thoughts rolling on this.

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  2. I agree with your post. I think the more you experience emotionally and physically, the more you have to draw from. No need to backtrack, you said it right. That’s not to say that young writers can’t be good, but young writer’s you have to admit that you’re going to become a better writer as you get older, and not just from practice–although that helps–but from living. I hope I’m a much better writer as I age.

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  3. Married older men have are not allowed to have strong opinions. We just wait to have our wives tells us what they are! It cuts down on this false sense of thinking we are in charge.

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  4. From someone who began writing at forty, I’m a bit intimidated by young MFAs (or just young writers in general). I try to comfort myself into believing my age and experience beats all. Then I’ll read something incredible, by someone not even old enough to have an MFA, and I’ll slide down that rabbit hole of self-doubt and eat some humble pie.

    P.S. I’ve gotten fat off all that pie.

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