Over the past few years I’ve thought about if people who have been writing their whole lives have an advantage over people who started writing later? In other words, people who’ve been writing stories since they were kids or teenagers vs. people who didn’t to start until adulthood. After reading and watching countless interviews with authors I’ve come no closer to a clear conclusion. I see a lot of pros and cons in both so I’ll list just my observations.
Pros for lifelong writers:
Your imagination is wide-open and hasn’t yet been squashed by the burdens of being an adult. You’ve experimented and played. The grammar and spelling are shoddy. Gapping plot holes a 777 could fly through. Static character development. Trite plots and clichés but who cares! Children and teens are less fearful in trying new things. And the best part, you don’t have a lot of the real world responsibilities like a ‘real’ job, paying bills, cooking dinner, children, etc. eating into writing time.
Cons for lifelong writers:
A child or teenager writer usually doesn’t have enough life experiences to be able to write more complex, adult situations. When I say adult situations I’m not referring to sexual situations rather the complexity adult life brings with it. Of course many teenagers have difficult lives and unfortunately have to deal with some very grown up situations and handle them maturely. When you’re younger, it’s very hard to see far ahead. Everything feels like if you choose wrong, your life is over.
Pros for adult writers:
A pro is having the benefit of a wealth of experiences to draw from not only from your own life but of those around you. You have decades of characters to draw from rather than the small group of people a child or teenager knows. You’re better able to see the complexities of life and can weave that into your narrative.
Cons for adult writers:
A con is the vast time constraint real life has. Work, family, a house, whatever takes up a lot of time leaving just a small amount of spare time to work. Where a young writer can spend years honing their skills and craft, an adult writer has to go through this process with adult responsibilities. To me this feels like it lengthens the learning curve process.
Another con is static an adult writer gets from other adults about pursuing writing. It’s easier to see it as a waste of time. An adult writer has to be cognizant of how their decisions affects people they are in charge of caring for. It’s a big risk and scary to pursue.
One area I’m not sure if there are pros or cons for either group, is feedback. I can see a young writer being open to the advice of others and incorporating suggestions. On the other hand I can also see an adult writer taking criticism too much to heart and being more willing to give up.
At the end of the day it is up to the writer’s talent and ambition that determine success. Sure a writer who started as a child has several more years of experience but it all comes out equal in the end. After all, the average age of the first-time published author is 40.
Personally I wish I had started writing my stories down as a teenager but lacked the courage clouded by my perception of authors had to be the smartest people on the planet. I could never write like they did, good or bad, and felt I lacked imagination. My strengths as a writer lay in writing essays and research papers for school but felt it could ever transfer to creative writing. As an adult, I did start writing ideas down and even starting stories but always dismissed it as being a silly, foolish hobby despite the fact it was fun and brought me joy. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s/early 30s that I began realizing that if I wanted to be happier in life, I should pursue writing. I just wish I had realized that earlier because who knows where I would be right now in my career.