Why Age is Relevant to Writing

Let me start this post by saying that I think teen writers are pretty darn awesome. I feel slightly awkward saying that, since I’m a teen writer. But I’m not talking about myself right now. I’m talking about the community of teen writers, both online and off, that has more passion than I thought possible.

That being said, I see a lot of misconceptions haunting teen writers. I did a post of all the ways adults misunderstand us, so I figured I’d better make things fair and do a post about how teens misunderstand themselves.

I believe teen writers aren’t all that different from adult writers in many ways. However, I do see a giant misconception that floats around the heads of many teen writers:

Age has absolutely no impact on writing.

I’m not going to point any fingers, but I’ve seen a lot of blogs/websites/people say this. And every time I see it, my initial reaction is, “Whaaaat?” Simply put, this just isn’t how I see things. I know I’m the odd-man-out, so I figured I’d take a moment to break-down my thoughts.

Basically, my thought is this: Age has a HUGE impact on writing.  

Like most writers, I cringe when I look back at my old writing. But I cringe about something different than most adult writers. For me, it’s the drama that’s the worst part of my stories. Everything–and I mean everything–is painfully dramatic. A typical scene in my first novel goes something like this:

MC wakes up! *GASP*

MC goes to school! *GAAASP*

MC meets up with best friend! *GAAAASP*

MC and best friend gossip! *GAAAAAAASP*

And I’m not the only teen writer to have this sort of issue. In fact, it’s the most common problem I’ve noticed in teen writing: The characters’ emotions are extremely unbalanced. Sometimes teen write over-done emotions (like me), and sometimes it’s the exact opposite. Either way, the writing comes off as immature and naive. I think the reason for these unbalanced emotions is simple: not enough life experience.

If you think about the typical adult, they have a ton of life experience to draw on for their writing. The day they finally graduated college was probably the most relieving day of their life. The day they proposed to their spouse was probably the most nerve-wracking. The day their first child was born was probably the happiest. Ect, ect, ect. These experiences give adult writers an easy way to relate to the trials of their characters.

Now think about teens: What emotional experiences do we have to draw on? Pretty much nothing in comparison to adults.

Quite simply, most teens haven’t lived long enough to truly grasp the essence and impact of emotions. I know I’m one of these teens; even if my life hasn’t exactly been easy, it’s nothing compared most adults. Because the goal of most novels is to draw emotions from the reader, teens are put at a huge disadvantage. How can we convey emotions if we don’t even understand them?

This is why I say age has such a big impact on writing. The older we get, the more life experience we have to draw on. But, until then, we’re left in this awkward stage of trying to rip emotions from readers that we don’t truly understand.

So this leads back to a conclusion I came to years ago: Teens are at a disadvantage when it comes to writing. But the good news? We’re young. If we keep writing consistently, we’ll have years of writing experience by the time we hit twenty-five. And, if you combine that with the life experiences we’ll have at that point, it’ll make a kick-butt combo.


7 thoughts on “Why Age is Relevant to Writing

  1. I feel like you summed up my feelings perfectly. Age definitely has an impact on writing, and you described it so eloquently here. I’ll admit that I first started reading, I thought that you might agitate me, but this was beautifully worded. That has to be the worst part about writing as a teen- the lack of experience that you have. And even if your writing skill is at the level of an adult or even higher, things grow complicated with the amount of experience that you may or may not have.

  2. This is a wonderful post, and I agree wholeheartedly. Although it’s easy to say, “Age doesn’t affect your writing,” it does. You will always be better tomorrow than you were yesterday; it’s the way of the writer. Lovely, wonderful post. 😀

  3. I think age is not a solid indicator of anything but time elapsed since birth. I’m convinced maturity has more to do with quality of writing and there is no test or exam that makes sure all people of a certain age have the same level of maturity. I have read one manuscript in particular from a fourteen year old that had a drastically more developed style than a good sampling of the work I have read from adults.

    I do believe teen writers face compounded versions of the creative problems presented to their older peers, but I think they do have the singular advantage of, as you said, a head start at practicing their craft. If we keep writing, by the time we’re adults, we’ll have years of practice to tell our stories the best we possibly can.

  4. Looking at writing from the other end of the age spectrum, I’d have to say I agree with you. Not only do your emotions mature as you age, but you acquire life experiences that are useful in your writing. It’s amazing the amount of knowledge one collects along the journey, not only through reading and research, but from travel and life experiences. Sometimes when I’m in the zone, the accumulated knowledge of my years flows effortlessly onto the page and, afterward, I find myself wondering where I acquired the information that, until it poured through my fingers, had been lost in some dustbin of miscellany in my mind. But while I may bring maturity and experience to bear, you bring enthusiasm and a fresh perspective. Each of us has something useful to contribute.

  5. Pingback: Why Age isn’t Relevant to Publishing | Writers Write, Right?

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