It Doesn’t Matter When You Start

Photo credit: Nick-K (Nikos Koutoulas) on Flickr
So I saw this post floating around the internet last week in which some ill-informed person basically came out and said if you don’t start writing when you’re in high school, you’ll never be published/aren’t a real writer/something along those lines/blah.

I hope that anyone reading this blog knows that’s laughably inaccurate, but just in case: no, it’s not even close to true.

Here’s the thing: some people do start writing with the intention of being published in high school, or even before high school. And you know? That’s really cool. I give virtual high-fives and pats on the back to those teens because it takes more sacrifice than you might think to start pursuing a writing career that early on.

But those people are not the majority of writers. Not even close.

There are plenty of writers who don’t write their first book until college. Or until they’re in their thirties. Or until their kids have left for college. Or until they’ve retired.

None of them are wrong. None of them are lesser than those who started earlier in life. None of them are more or less “real” of a writer than the other, and believe it or not, their chances of getting published have absolutely nothing to do with their age.

I know I’m probably preaching to the choir, here, but generalizing, inaccurate statements put out to discourage people just make me really ragey.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: every writer has their own journey. Some writers indeed start in their early teen years and get published before they turn twenty—others start at the same time and don’t get published until they’ve graduated college. Some writers start in their twenties and get published a few years later. Some start after the birth of their first kid and get published five or ten years later. The possibilities are literally endless and how quickly someone gets published, or how successful they are after they’ve published has absolutely nothing to do with how old they were when they started writing.

You know what does matter? The writing.

That’s it.

If your dream is to be a published author, and you’re fifteen, or thirty-seven, or fifty-eight, or eighty-four, your age is irrelevant. What matters is that you’re dedicated, and work hard to improve your writing and your manuscript, and study the publishing industry, and read, read, read, and have patience. What matters is that you don’t stop until you’ve seen your dreams realized.

Age isn’t important. Your writing is.

What do you think? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Writer @Ava_Jae says it doesn't matter how old you are when you start writing. What do you think? (Click to tweet)  
Writer @Ava_Jae says when it comes to getting published, age is irrelevant. Do you agree? (Click to tweet)


Rebecca Kelsey said...

Really nice to read this today, thanks Ava.

Kindness is the best accessory,
Rebecca -

Ava Jae said...

You're very welcome. :)

Fida said...

It's never too early or late to start writing. I'm sure though there are some people including myself wished we started earlier. Thank you for sharing!

Ana @ Butterflies of the Imagi said...

What an inspiring post, Ava. I'm a teen who loves to write and my aim is to be published as a teen. Still, if that doesn't happen, I'll move on, keep on writing and keep on trying to get published. I think sometimes I get this idea that if I don't get published as a teen the world will be over (quite melodramatic, I know), but it doesn't matter when I get published. Anyone can get published with enough work and perseverance-no matter their age.

George McNeese said...

You couldn't be more right, Ava. When I was in college, I had a dream of being published, writing Christian fiction. I still hold on to the dream of being published fifteen years later, though my genre has changed and I've added goals. Do I still want a novel published? Yes. But I also want to publish short stories in magazines. As for genres, I may still do Christian fiction, but I'm leaning more toward Southern fiction. We'll see where my calling leads. In the meantime, I will write and write some more.

Linda Strawn said...

I may have scribbled little stories when I was in grammar school, wrote poetry and short stories in high school, and kept a journal while I served in the Army, I didn't start writing seriously until my 40's hit. I'm a late bloomer and it bothered me for a long time. Now I'm not focused on time so much as I am at becoming the best writer I can be. Thanks for posting this, Ava Jae. I hope every writer who reads this is encouraged.

E.G. Moore said...

When I read what you were raging against, I felt my frustration well up in my chest. Of course they are wrong! I've only be writing to seek publication for two years, and I know that I will accomplish it because I am emerging myself in the community and learning constantly. I'm 28, so according to them, I should just give up now! NO WAY! Not my style and not the truth at all! Bravo on calling them out Ava! Write on!

Debra Eve said...

I have a whole blog that proves this wrong, Ava ;). Right now I'm researching the life of Kenneth Grahame...wrote some essays in his 20s, climbed the corporate ladder, married, raised a son with disabilities, didn't write for 10 years. Published The Wind in The Willows at age 49. Bram Stoker wrote Dracula at age 50. (It was his second book. The first was published when he was 43.) I'm beginning to think early starters are the exception, not the norm! Great post.

Heather said...

This is so important to remember, especially for me. I think in my case (as someone who spends a lot of time with other teen writers) it is so easy to be jealous of those people who get published in their teen years—and then when I actually read their writing I am disappointed. Because it tends to fall under the "poor quality writing" department of my bookshelf. Like you said, we should really focus on the writing, because getting published at 13 doesn't make you a prodigy and getting published at 75 does not make you a late bloomer. The people who write well and market well will sell well, and I think they've earned that.

And so.. Yes. I ramble. But you make good points and I wholeheartedly agree.

Ava Jae said...

You're welcome, Fida!

Ava Jae said...

I completely, 100% understand what you mean. I started writing with the aim of getting published in my early teen years, and it wasn't easy to accept that I wasn't going to get published (or agented) while I was a teen. But I do think that it's important to remember that while a couple teens do get published while they're teens, many many many don't until their twenties or later (which, by the way, is still awesome), and it doesn't make you a failure in the least if you don't get published before you turn twenty. You have a head start, which is totally awesome, but try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Writing isn't a race. :)

Ava Jae said...

That's great, George. Good luck! :)

Ava Jae said...

You're so welcome, Linda! There are plenty of writers who don't start pursuing writing seriously until later on, and that's equally wonderful. I think it's wonderful that you're not focused on time as much as you are at becoming a better writer—to me, right there, is the key. Writing, after all, isn't a race. :)

Ava Jae said...

Thanks, E.G.! Sounds like you're on the right track and I wish you all the best with your writing! :)

Ava Jae said...

Thanks, Debra! Those are all really awesome examples—thanks so much for sharing! And I think as far as writers goes, there probably isn't a norm at all. People start in all different stages of life at the time that's right for them. :)

Ava Jae said...

Ramble or not this is excellent. Thanks, Heather! I absolutely think the most important thing is to improve your writing. When you get published doesn't matter, but what you publish does.

Good luck with your writing!

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