We live in an age and a society that revels in (and reviles) being ‘too’ – being too big, too small, too old, too young, too open, too closed… All around us are the ‘norms’ – the images and ideas we are expected to aspire to and to believe as being the average. They’re pushed on us from all angles – the media we consume, the books we read, the social media accounts we follow… Diversity is not something that is often celebrated which leads to many people feeling that they simply don’t ‘fit’ into the world or role they may be seeking.
The average age that authors publish their first books is the age of 36. In fact, many of the most famous and influential authors produced their ‘breakthrough’ books at around this age: JRR Tolkien (36), Jane Austen (39), Terry Pratchett (36), John Steinbeck (36), Charles Dickens (32), Charlotte Bronte (32) to name but a few. When you walk into a bookshop and open a book cover, it is quite likely that the face staring back at you is likely to be that of a 30 something author. So is this the age that you ‘should’ become an author? Are you simply too young before this point? And nothing more than ‘over the hill’ after you hit 40? Tell that to, Jim Downing, the oldest author in the world who was 102 years and 176 days when the final draft of his book The Other Side of Infamy was accepted for publication, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA.
There are many reasons why authors may find their ‘writing stride’ in their 30s. From the age of 11, education is the primary focus for all young people and sadly, much of the education system nowadays doesn’t encourage freedom of creativity. With the mounting pressure of examinations, students are often ‘taught to test’ rather than encouraged to pick up a pen and to write for the simple love of writing. After years of education comes a career – years of carving out experience and finding your place within a company to secure a secure future and financial stability. Again, this may not allow the freedom to sit down and work on the novel you have brewing in your brain. Is it just the case that by your mid-30s, you have ticked the boxes you need to tick, and you have the time and security to be able to write that book which has been comfortably nestled in your mind, waiting for an opportunity to be released?
Do writers suddenly have something interesting to say when they hit 30? By this stage, have they fallen in and out of love enough, fostered and faltered enough friendships, travelled and talked enough to finally have a story that other people might want to read? Have they battled enough adversities that they can suddenly write a story with the credibility to inspire others?
Is it merely the case that by your 30s you have finally found the inner confidence to write and not care whether anyone reads it? Is it a case that your inner voice becomes so loud that you can no longer ignore it and the words spill on to the page whether you want them to or not? So the process of writing becomes more organic and less forced then it did when you truly worried about what other people thought of you and whether your writing would help you to win friends and influence people?
The answer is: who knows? These ideas may be true for some authors yet completely irrelevant to others. Who knows why 36 is the magical age of authorship? And does it really matter?
Every book journey is individual and entirely unique to the person travelling it. The youngest published author according to the Guinness Book of Records was a 4 year old girl named Dorothy Straight, who wrote her book, ‘How The World Began’ in 1962. She clearly possessed all the things an author needs to publish a book – she had something to say which people wanted to hear, she had confidence, she had imagination, she had the time to create her book. And perhaps most importantly, she had people around her who believed in her and who wanted to help her become a published author. The fact she was only 4 years old was irrelevant.
The spark of a story could be ignited at any point in your life, for any number of reasons. Take for example M. Angel who wrote the incredible Sci-Fi novel XXIV: Unbreakable when she was just 13 because she was bored in her summer holidays… Creativity and imagination have no age limit, no age parameters. To write, you simply need an idea and that can be born at any stage in your life. There is no reason to believe that your ideas will suddenly mature or become more honed when you reach the magic age of 36 and to sit and wait for that to happen would be nothing short of a waste of your talents…
Age is just a number. Talent, passion, skill, commitment, dedication, confidence… These are all things that can be developed at any point in your life with the right attitude and perhaps with the right guidance from others.
If you have dreams of becoming an author, don’t wait for the right time. Don’t doubt your ability and write yourself off as being too inexperienced or too old. Just write. Write for the pure joy of writing. Write to release the pent up creativity that your everyday life might quash. Write because you want to write and because you can.
And then find a publisher who is willing to help celebrate your diversity and individuality. Because being part of the ‘norm’ doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be guaranteed instance authorial success at the age of 36.
Here at Conscious Dreams Publishing, we work with authors of ALL ages. We passionately believe in the need to represent all authorial voices regardless of age, gender or race. Our ethos is to publish books that inspire, entertain, educate and empower readers.
If you have a dream to become a published author, why not contact Daniella today to arrange your free 30-minute telephone consultation? Click here to book your free call and start your book journey today.
Written by Conscious Dreams Contributor Clare Lou