In the past week, I’ve been contacted by four writers, all in their sixties or seventies. Each of them is relatively new to writing. And they are all excited to finally embark on their long-held writing dreams. But where to start? When I offer writing coaching for older writers—perhaps like you?—I suggest we begin by exploring your wealth of experience, looking for the aspects that will most benefit you on your writing journey.
All your life lessons apply!
If you have reached your middle or later years without gaining literary traction, you may wonder, Is it too late for me, now? As a writing coach for older writers, I’ve learned that older writers may be much better-prepared for learning their craft than younger writers. Mastering the writing craft can take time. And as older writers (yup, me, too), we may have developed the patience that will help us onboard those important skills.
In fact, by fifty or sixty or seventy, many folks have learned how they learn best. We can capitalize on that knowledge to make the most of educational resources and opportunities. For instance, will we do better with an online class or with personalized instruction? Or maybe we’ve found that we are actually autodidacts, able to teach ourselves what we need to know?
Writing coaching for older writers: habit patterns and perspective
As we get older, we get better acquainted with our own preferences. This awareness helps when we’re engaging in a writing project that may demand a long-term commitment from us. Knowing, for example, that we’re an inveterate night owl, not a lark, allows us to schedule our writing when we know we’ll be most productive.
And because our years have taught us more about what it means to be a human being, our work will be more meaningful and deeper than anything we could have written earlier in our lives.
First-time writers take heart
NEW YORK TIMES‘ ADVICE COLUMNIST ROXANE GAY has addressed concerns that newer or unpublished middle-aged-ish writers may have. She says, Throughout my 20s and most of my 30s, I was convinced I was never going to make it as a writer. My writing was constantly rejected, and I took the rejection personally, as one does. It is easy to fall prey to the idea that writing success is intrinsically bound to youth, she says.
Read more at Ask Roxane: Is It Too Late to Follow My Dreams?
But what about getting published?
THE GUARDIAN recently published an article about the opportunities for older women writers. In it, Cherry Potts, the founder of the independent publisher Arachne Press, has much to say about the “ripple” opening doors for women over seventy.
She says, “There has been a sea change in publishers’ understanding and acceptance of older women’s experience and their voices, which are no longer dismissed as safe or cosy. It started with small presses like us but our ripple is now working through to the industry as a whole.”
In ON WRITING, Stephen King has something to say about older writers! “Agents, publishers, and editors are all looking for the next hot writer who can sell a lot of books and make lots of money … and not just the next hot young writer, either. Helen Santmyer was in a retirement home [in her eighties!] when she published AND LADIES OF THE CLUB. Frank McCourt was quite a bit younger  when he published ANGELA’S ASHES, but he was still no spring chicken.
Then, there’s Sir Christopher Bland, who was 76 when his first novel, ASHES IN THE WIND, was published. Today, the Royal Society of Literature has established the RSL Christopher Bland Prize, to encourage the work of older writers. The £10,000 prize is awarded annually to an author who was fifty or older when they were first published.
Starting to write later in life? Writing coaching for older writers can help you get off to a great start!
If you’ve waited to explore your writing dream, you have likely seen many trends come and go in the world of literature. I’ve been coaching writers of all ages for over a dozen years. Let’s see if we can put my experience in the publishing industry to good use in the service of your long-deferred writing goals. Start by scheduling a free 30-minute consultation with me. You might also want to check out THE WRITER mag article “Should I Hire a Writing Coach.”