People often ask me how old I was when I started writing. To be honest, I’m always a little hesitant about answering that particular question.
The truth is, I’ve been writing/storytelling since before I actually could, well, write. I’m 99.99% sure I was born with a pen in my hand (although my parents swear I wasn’t). I used to force my mom to sit down so I could dictate my stories to her. She was like my own personal Dragonspeak program… Momspeak.
Why am I reluctant to answer the aforementioned question? Because I’d hate to cause anyone to to feel insecure when I tell them I’ve been writing since the ice age.
I know many writers; some are like me, born with the affliction, other take awhile to bloom.
It doesn’t matter when you started or start writing. What matters is that you love it!
Everyone has a different road to travel. A different creative journey. My road is not your road, and vice versa.
When I tell newer writers how long I’ve been at it, I usually sense:
- That they think I’m an elitist
- That they think I’m full of crap
- A weird combination of any/all of the above
Of course, there are times when the other writer is like “TUBULAR, DUDE!” and then we high-five and run off into the sunset with brightly colored surfboards in hand.
(I’ve never been on a surfboard in my entire life. I’d probably die.)
Here’s the thing:
Your passion and dedication are not measured by how long you’ve been writing, how many times you’ve been published, or how many likes you got on your latest social media post.
I’m all for writers. All of them. Regardless of age, regardless of chosen genre, regardless of how long they’ve been at it. Writing is hard. Writing takes effort. Writing takes heart. Writing is a HUGE sacrifice of time. And yet we still choose to sit here and do it.
We need to stop comparing ourselves to other writers.
Every single writer’s journey is unique.
YOUR journey is unique.
It’s way too easy to look at other writers (or creative people in general) and start keeping score.
Well, Susy Lemmon’s latest post got 200 likes and mine only got 30.
How come Arnold can write 5,000 words in a day and I can only write 2,000?
Angie got a PUBLISHING DEAL! I’m still querying agents! I’m useless!
Why can’t I be that inspired?
Why can’t I outline like that?
This manuscript is amazing. My books will never be this great.
I will admit that I’ve done it. We all do. It’s easy. It’s easy to let that evil little voice inside of you tell you that you can never live up to everyone else.
I submit to you:
Let it MOTIVATE you, but don’t let it DEFEAT you!
A little competition never hurt anyone.
Make a goal.
You want to up your average words per day? Practice.
You want to get a publishing deal? Keep on it!
Why can’t you be that inspired? Go for a walk! Read someone else’s book! Take a break! Let your mind rest and rejuvenate and try again!
The completed manuscript is better than your WIP? If you’re holding a published book, do you know how long it took to prepare it for publishing? Do you know how many editors and changes its probably been through?
Bram Stoker didn’t write Dracula until he was 50! Mind you, it wasn’t his first novel… but 50!
Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of The Little House on the Prairie series, didn’t actually start writing until her 40s. Talk about late blooming.
Millard Kaufman, author of Bowl of Cherries, didn’t get published until he was 90 years old. Let me say that again – 90 years old.
On the flip side of the coin, you have young authors like Amelia Atwater-Rhodes who signed a publishing deal at the early age of 14.
All the authors noted above have had varying degrees of great success, and they all walked their own roads to get there.
Sometimes the journey will be long and hard. Sometimes it’ll be uphill. Hell, sometimes it’ll be hailing and you’ll have no umbrella. You’re going to run into roadblocks that the person next to you doesn’t have to face. Sometimes you’ll look over and wish you were walking their road, but trust me, their road is filled with struggles, too.
You take the high road.
I’ll take the low road.
I’ll bring snacks in case one of us gets hungry.