Thinking about becoming a writer at 40?
Becoming a writer at 40 or above is possible. It’s not too late to write a book, article or blog. You’re on time to write.
Did you know that Toni Morrison was 40 years old when she published “The Bluest Eye,” her first novel?
She would later go on to win the Nobel Prize and several other notable literary awards in the course of her writing career.
But Morrison isn’t the only one on the list of people who started writing and publishing books at age 40 plus. Sam Savage’s first book was published when he was 65.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was 64 at the time her first novel was released. Annie Proulx, the Pulitzer Prize winner, started writing at 58.
Sidney Sheldon’s first book was published when he was 52. Many other celebrated literary names didn’t get around to a writing career until they were in their forties, or much later in life.
Where am I going with this becoming a writer at 40?
It is never too late to start your writing career. Sure, twenty, ten or even five years ago would have been an excellent time to start penning down some books.
But that didn’t happen. So, here you are today, in your 40s, and you are wondering if maybe you could still pursue your dream of writing and publishing books.
The answer is yes. Yes, you absolutely can. It’s never too late to live your passion and follow your dreams.
It will be difficult starting to write at 40
If you are going to start your writing career at forty, then it is of utmost importance that you are realistic about your expectations.
And one thing you can expect from starting a writing career in your forties is difficult.
Yes, you read that right. It is not going to be smooth sailing for you at all.
First off, let us start with the fact that in recent years, the industry has gravitated more towards the younger 20-something writers over the older authors.
Think about it.
How often do you hear of big publishing companies offering seven-figure deals to new writers in the industry who are 40 or older to publish their first book?
How many organizations provide financial support to debut writers over 40?
When was the last time you heard big news about a 40 plus writer just publishing their first book?
The market today has been cornered by wunderkind writers with breakout works, and it would not be a lie to say that book publishing today is youth-centric.
As such, it is no surprise that there are more debut writers under 40 than above 40.
Nonetheless, this should not discourage you from becoming a writer at 40.
The fact that younger authors swamp the market doesn’t mean that you are helplessly disadvantaged as an aspiring older author.
Neither does it mean the older writers are any less talented than their younger counterparts.
Getting published later in life might be difficult but not impossible.
Why it is okay to start writing later in life
Things happen when they are supposed to. So, no more panicking or regretting why you did not start writing earlier in life.
If you sit down to think about it, you will realize that there is nothing wrong with becoming a writer at 40.
There are a lot of benefits to be enjoyed from starting later in life and below, I will discuss the advantages the 40 plus writers have over the younger writers.
You will enjoy the wisdom that comes with age
Now, getting older doesn’t always necessarily mean you’ll get wiser.
But as you get older in life, you live through more experiences, and if there is one thing you get from life experiences, it is wisdom.
Think about the things you have gone through during the last few years and the experiences you have lived through.
There is a lot you have known and experienced as a 40-year old that would have been entirely alien to your 20-something-year-old self.
You may have gotten married, divorced, had children, watched them grow, lost old friends, and made new ones, lost a loved one to death, failed at a career and so on.
Becoming a writer at 40, you would have more to draw from your life to channel into your writing and create a more robust and compelling story.
Your experience is a significant contributor to what you can put out as a writer, and it is up to you to use it to your advantage.
You won’t have to bear the burden of expectations
Remember what was said earlier about how the industry is more focused on younger writers over the older ones?
This means that becoming a writer at 40, or an aspiring writer, the spotlight is not on you.
This may not sound like a good thing, but in this situation, it is.
When the focus is on you, it means you probably have a fan base, an audience with expectations.
These expectations can paralyze your writing, especially as a new author just starting in the industry.
So instead of writing what you want to write, you are stifled into writing what your audience wants you to write so that you can meet their expectations and retain their interest in you.
That is what many young writers have to go through, especially those who have signed huge deals with publishers.
They have to deliver what their audience wants.
But luckily for you, older writers just starting in the industry are under no such pressure as the focus is not on them.
No spotlight means no audience, and as such, there are little to no expectations.
You are free to go with your imagination and write what you want to write.
However, you want to write it.
The freedom to express your literary skills without restrictions or expectations results in a much better book, which can help you launch your writing career.
You will become less idealistic with becoming a writer at age 40
Here is a problematic truth a lot of writers do not like to admit – there is the possibility that you may not be successful.
You may never have that blockbuster book, your writing career may never take off, and you may never be good enough for one of those multi-million dollar book deals.
Now, while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with idealism, it can be quiet misleading.
Youth and idealism go hand in hand.
Younger authors tend to nurture the belief that they can write their way to riches and fame.
Again, while there is nothing wrong with being optimistic about your career, sooner or later, young authors will come to realize that they may never be able to achieve the wealth and fame they hope for from writing.
Disappointment sets in and a few years down the line, they are on another career path, having given up on writing.
Older people, on the other hand, are much less lofty.
Having gone through life, at 40 you may have had your share of disappointments and as such older writers tend to have more realistic and sensible expectations about what they hope to achieve as writers.
Moreover, if you want to start writing at 40, it’s likely, you are not writing because you “need” to write but because you “want” to write.
Writing at this age becomes more about personal fulfillment than the need to become rich and famous.
Thus, older people who start writing because it is what they want and love to do, are in a better position to write better books and create a better writing career than the younger authors.
Writing out of a need to write and the fear of not making it.
You do not have to worry about finances
You are likely to be more financially stable at this point in your life than you were at 20-something.
And you know what comes with financial stability? Peace of mind.
The impact financial security can have on your creativity is something that has no exaggeration.
Your brain is more relaxed, and you can better channel your energy into coming up with an incredible story that will help you write a better book.
The truth is that save for the incredibly talented and lucky young writers who have signed major book deals, a lot of young writers are struggling financially.
Constantly worrying about your finances can be draining, and this will take its toll on them, which may reflect in the quality of work they put out.
So no need to worry about how late you are to the writing industry.
Sit back and appreciate the fact that there’s no need to worry about how you are going to pay your rent or where the next meal will come from.
Being financially stable means, you are free of the pertinent pressures, and you are free to write whatever you have always wanted to write.
So becoming a writer at 40 is not late, it is convenient.
You will be more focused than before
Your twenties and early thirties are for experimentation.
This stage of life means it is okay to try as many things as you want until you find something that suits you.
It’s the same with the writing industry.
Most younger writers tend to play around with their works in a bid to figure out a genre that suits them.
Do they want to write romance novels?
Historical fiction? Crime and espionage?
In essence, there is a lot of experimentation for many younger writers, and this exploration could go on until they find a genre which aligns with their skill set.
This is why a lot of them could write for years but would not get that blockbuster until much later in their writing career.
Thankfully, as an older writer, you have likely skipped the whole experimentation phase.
How so? Well before you think about becoming a writer at 40, chances are you may have already honed in on what you want to write about.
This decision will come more easily to you than the younger writer because you have had ample time all through the years which you were not writing to determine your favorite genre to read and write as well as your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
Once you have this figured out, what you would enjoy writing will be apparent to you.
As an older writer, you will come to appreciate this targeted focus as it will allow you to write your stories with more precision and speed.
After all, you have probably been thinking about it for years.
There are many reasons one may decide to start a writing career at 40.
It could be because you were pursuing another job, or maybe you wanted to focus on building a family first or perhaps you did not just believe in your writing enough to take it seriously and make a career out of it.
Whatever your reasons may be, it is not too late to become the writer you always wanted to be, not at 40, not at 50, never.
Think of the past years as time spent collecting material and experience that you can always tap into whenever you want to write.
So remember, life does begin at 40.
Begin to look forward to your writing career.
Do not give in to self-doubt.
Understand that writing is an art and not a craft that requires mastery. Becoming a writer at 40 may be difficult, but the possibilities are endless.