The Benefits of Being an “Old Writer”

Do you worry that you’re “too old” or that you don’t have enough time to write.

Reconsider your thoughts and evaluate what it might mean for you to finally shared that story or idea and start to generate new possibilities during these vital years. The writer never retire—because we love what we are doing.

As you get older writing becomes more meaningful and compelling. My clients say that the writing becomes easier with practice and they experience that feeling of ‘flow’ that seems to slow downtime. They are better able to savor their experience and find more joy. 

Some benefits of being an “older” writer:

We have more life experience and wisdom.

We are more committed to taking advantage of every opportunity.

We are less controlled by what others think.

We’ve learned the meaning of ‘good enough’ and have let go of perfectionism.

We have much clearer priorities:

The life of younger people is incredibly pressured: paying the mortgage, taking care of kids, and looking after aging parents. We’re pulled in a dozen different directions and jobs like ‘writing’ often end up far down the list. When we’re older, however, many of those responsibilities have faded and we have time to devote to those tasks that are most important to us. 

We find it easier to manage our emotions:

One of the biggest benefits of aging is that we’re no longer at the behest of our emotions. We understand that feelings come and go — changing in a heartbeat. If writing seems hard now, we can continue writing, knowing that 20 minutes from now it may appear easy again.

We have a better sense of self-worth:

Self-worth appears to increase with age, perhaps as a result of all that we have seen and learned after decades on this earth. We’ve seen some smart people fall (e.g. Bill Clinton) and troubled people succeed (e.g. Albert Einstein). As a result, we’re more likely to understand that we’re all human beings facing similar challenges. Our self-worth is not defined by what we do but by how we behave.

Writing likely makes us happier:

This is particularly true if the writing focuses on our own goals. Research by Laura King shows that this type of writing not only makes us happier but also healthier.

Writing leads to more critical thinking:

Did you know that Warren Buffet, Richard Branson and Bill Gates are all serious writers? They use writing as a way of refining their ideas and articulating their thoughts. The act of taking what’s in our brain and committing it to paper forces us to document our logic and explain our reasons. This discipline, by definition, makes us better thinkers.

Writing is a vehicle for dealing with challenges:

No one escapes this life without some challenges. For people like neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, who died of metastatic lung cancer, writing his luminous book When Breath Becomes Air, allowed him to have more time with his wife and gave him the chance to have a child before dying at the age of 37. But you don’t have to be on death’s doorstep to be facing hard times. A dysfunctional boss or client, a troubled kid or sibling, or an angry partner can all be annoying enough. Don’t just stew; write about it!

Writing keeps us sharp:

Writing increases brain plasticity, which means it enhances our ability to change. This flexibility plays an important role in furthering brain development and reducing decline. A brain with more plasticity will do a better job of retrieving words, memories, references, and thoughts than a brain with less plasticity. (In addition to writing, I’m also working on my French for precisely this reason.)

Writing is relaxing:

If you associate writing with your grade 11 English class (which you hated) then you might not think of writing as relaxing. But it can be. Instead of focusing on the result, pay more attention to the process. Like any repetitive activity (eg: knitting, walking, doing yoga) writing is a task that can help relax you. Resolve to make writing an activity that makes you feel better.

Writing helps us become better learners:

Most writing forces us to use our critical thinking skills. Regardless of the subject — i.e. even if we’re not writing about something scientific — we need to name problems, gather and analyze ideas, prepare hypotheses, and form arguments. We are never too old to learn. 


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