“Age considers; youth ventures.” – Rabindranath Tagore
A young writer (15 years old) asked about the advantages of being an older writer. She went on to explain how she wanted to develop her writing before writing this one story. In her mind she thought that she didn’t have the chops to make it happen right now.
My experiences with musicians, artists, writers etc have so far turned out to be that not one has benefited from the type of pursuit of perfection she was describing.
I suggested studying the work of Joseph Campbell, authors she enjoyed and Stephen King’s “On Writing”. All the while cautioning that in order to develop we actually have to sit our butts down and actually write. That’s the only real way we’ll ever learn what works and what doesn’t.
By the way: procrastination.
I got to be completely honest. In the middle of writing this I took a look at my phone and one of my friends had sent me stupid video on “Dubsmash”. What did I do? I promptly shut down the writing for a few minutes, recorded a quick gif-animation video and sent it to him. How’s that for productivity?
Back to the issue at hand. Young people vs. old people as writers.
So, what older writers have going for them is their experience. They’ve got a richer palette from which to choose colors. I explained to her that this is a double-edged sword.
The more we experience the more we need to keep our senses fresh so that we avoid dulling them.
What’s changed is the vocabulary and a loss of that youthful naïveté when it comes to certain beliefs about life. It’s something that makes me smile and think: “Oh, if you only knew what was coming!”
At the same time it was kind of charming. If I’d write like that now it’d probably seem immature or silly for a 30 something. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Please, let me explain how mature it was to go off and make a gif of a pug screaming “wazzup” instead of actually focusing on writing.
Where are you right now? We as an audience want to connect with that person. Some people like nostalgia too (I love the 80’s!) but it depends on what you want to accomplish.
If you want your work to be about the “here and now” experience then you need to start on it, like, right this second! Then again, if you want it to feel nostalgic then write it in 10-15 years when you’ve gained some distance.
It’s not completely impossible to go back and capture that spirit but it gets a lot harder with time. Something that can help is to keep a journal on it and maybe draw small sketches or make a collage so that you form a stronger bond to what you’re experiencing right now.
It was so great to see her look at perfection in a different light. Maybe she’ll save some time and all of us will get to enjoy her writing a lot sooner.
Have you been putting off doing something simply because you think that you aren’t quite ready yet? Does it really need to be that perfect? What’s wrong with doing it now and it simply being “good enough”?
Share your thoughts on twitter or in the comments section.
Have an amazing & creative day!