Do you have a memory you’d like to preserve so your children or grandchildren will know about your life? Or is there something that happened when you were a child—or an adult—a story you’d like to tell, but when you put it down on paper, it doesn’t come out the way you want it to? Maybe you’d like to write a short story or a novel, but you don’t know where to begin. Take it from one who knows. You’re never too old to start writing. And publishing.
I liked writing as a kid, but the experience of a cruel rejection when I was a timid high school freshman made me retreat from creative writing altogether. I swore I’d never write anything again. Two experiences, both many years later, helped to free me from my writing paralysis. I learned to write and take pleasure in it.
The first experience occurred in a class that I took with a friend from work. The teacher’s idea was to have students write their memories, beginning with the first one they could remember, but not in the voice of an adult looking back on the memory but in the voice of the child who experienced it. The writing and later reading aloud were profoundly moving for all of us. People wrote as abused children and broke down in tears as they read what they had written. People wrote as spies on their parents’ lives and re-experienced the guilt and fear they had felt. Many, perhaps most, of the memories were painful, but the writing experience freed up a great deal of pent up fear, anger and sadness.
The second came from Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY, a book designed to free up creativity based on the Alcoholics Anonymous twelve step program. I didn’t do all of the exercises Cameron prescribed, but one that I did for years was to write three pages every morning as soon as I got out of bed, not thinking about what I was writing but simply continuing to put pen to paper until I had filled three pages. For years I got up at 4:30 in the morning and wrote my three pages before my long commute to work. I threw out the notebooks years later because they were mostly garbage. But they were a greatly freeing experience, writing with pen and ink with no constraints and no critic.
I began writing more seriously after I retired. I was lucky enough to find a writing group and a great teacher. I published my first mystery novel at the age of 79, my second at 80, and my third, PSYCHIC DAMAGE, will be out very soon.
If you have a dream and you want to make it come true, remember that you’re never too old to begin.