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All Things Writing > Life Experience and Writing

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message 1: by Bisky (new)

Bisky Scribbles (bisky_scribbles) | 2536 comments Mod
I wrote a blog post yesterday which seems to have piqued some interest with some people. I've been getting a lot of messages about it and it was retweeted quite a few times.

The blog was based around several of the private messages I've been getting since before christmas from people who have said that I should "stop writing and live my life first"

So, what is your opinion on this? How does your life experience fit into your work?

message 2: by Claire (new)

Claire (cycraw) | 278 comments There are writers aged ninety who are mediocre and then there are young people who are genii. It all depends in who you are not how old you are. I think being older will perhaps lend a maturity to ones writing, but it is by no means a requirement.

message 3: by Neil (new)

Neil Bursnoll | 109 comments I don't think you can truly put writing on hold if it's something you love doing. Yes we all have daily chores and commitments that we need to stick with, but that doesn't stop people from doing hobbies to keep themselves occupied. And that's all writing is if you have another full time occupation.

I'm married, have two kids, and have been in the same job for eleven years. I've been writing on/off for 25 years, give or take, and I'm only 33. It took me a long time to get published, due to numerous factors, and it's spurred me to keep going. Yes, I'd love to do it full time, but at this stage in my life it's a pipe dream. Maybe when I'm in my forties and I have numerous books out there, but until then I'm keeping my dream alive. I've wanted to be a writer for practically most of my life, and it's something I'm good at.

So really it has to go hand-in-hand with your life, unless you're incredibly lucky and you win a huge publishing contract and all manner of awards on the back of one book. If it's something you truly love, then friends and family that understand what it means to you will offer their support.

message 4: by Mark (new)

Mark Bordner I think that someone saying something like that should be slapped with a banana. If a person has a passion for writing, that is wonderful, and a gift of the soul. Pay no mind to such negative dribble, and write on !

message 5: by H.C. (new)

H.C. Gray (scribberlings) | 53 comments Better to write and live at the same time, I say! Learn on the job!

message 6: by Claire (new)

Claire (cycraw) | 278 comments @Mark, I'm sitting here wondering what it would be like to be slapped with a banana...

message 7: by Adrienne (new)

Adrienne (adrienne_s) | 10 comments How do you get better at something unless you practice? Writing is part of your life, and I know it's a crucial part of mine. Write to your heart's content! And never stop. That person is a fool to think otherwise.

message 8: by David (new)

David Thirteen (davidjthirteen) Bisky, I read your blog and I agree with you. If someone wants to be a writer then they should write regardless of age. Art (or craft depending on the term one prefers) isn't something that can be stored in a cellar and be returned to years later to find that it has improved. The best method for improvement is practice.

Waiting for life experience is rotten advice. As you point out, who is to say what experience a person has at what age. And can you imagine anyone saying that to someone who wanted to be a painter or a musician. The advice to them would be to learn and practice and I can't see why it would be any different for a writer.

I'm an older writer, and I did give it up for a while (pretty much all of my 30s), but it wasn't so I could gain life experience. It was mostly due to frustration with my own abilities than anything else. I do find now that I'm older I have a better outlook on my writing and there are all kinds of handy factoids I've learned and personality traits from people I've met that I can draw on when I write. But I also realize that there is an energy and emotional intensity that has mellowed with time. And I really can't say what is more advantageous to a writer. And I believe it would be best if a writer's works drew upon both stages of experience.

message 9: by Neil (new)

Neil Bursnoll | 109 comments @Claire I'm guessing it's going to emit more of a thud than an outright slap!

message 10: by Bisky (new)

Bisky Scribbles (bisky_scribbles) | 2536 comments Mod
It is very odd and part of me has been really wondering what spurs people on to send messages like that. I mean, I wouldn't say it was a popular opinion but I've had atleast ten messages so far saying roughly the same thing. Usually I reply something like:

Who are you people and why are you messaging me?!

and Neil, rofl. I should think a frozen banana could be quite the weapon.

message 11: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 1053 comments Mod
@Claire and Neil You both better test it now because as you might know, bananas are going extinct. :/

message 12: by Bisky (last edited Feb 04, 2014 07:18AM) (new)

Bisky Scribbles (bisky_scribbles) | 2536 comments Mod
I blame the decline on the decrease of decent two piece pyjamas.

message 13: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 1053 comments Mod
Oh and I agree. Age has nothing to do with being an author. Being older doesn't instantly give you a way with words. Being young doesn't automatically mean you don't know what you're talking about. Life experience should not just be counted with numbers. Besides, there's always the internet, the family, and the friends to turn to for questions.

message 14: by Claire (new)

Claire (cycraw) | 278 comments @Bisky - I think you're right in thinking that it's jealousy. Or just plain spite. Could also possibly be trolls just hoping to get a response.

message 15: by Bisky (last edited Feb 04, 2014 07:41AM) (new)

Bisky Scribbles (bisky_scribbles) | 2536 comments Mod
A couple were pretty well established and well respected self pubbed authors in some of the cliques that seem to exist on certain areas of the writing community on Twitter. That's why I didn't believe they were trolls. Also why I didn't write about it at the time. I haven't had a troll wave since October *knocks on wood* :3

message 16: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Michelle | 450 comments Mod
(Warning: Zombie Nicole is Speaking) My initial reaction is to tell those people to F off and punch them in the face lol who the hell are they to tell you what to do? The way I see it, writing is living.
Because I'm writing, I research and explore areas I never thought of before and I get to travel a lot more. If I wasn't aiming to get my book published I wouldn't really be doing anything with my life. I might still be at my full time job and doing school part time (vs the FT I'm doing now) just to keep up with the demands of the job I had. I GUESS if that's what they call "living", that's how I'd be doing it, but to me that's just dull and life-sucking. That's the reason I quit my job so I CAN live, so I can write, so I can travel, so I can meet new people and writers, and further my education adequately. I don't know what their definition of living is but I'm pretty damn satisfied with how I live my life, as I'm sure, Bisky, writing has been fulfilling for you as well.

BUT that's just my first reaction to the question and I haven't yet read the blog or anyone else's comments, so let me do that and give a better response lol

message 17: by Mark (new)

Mark Bordner Bananas are no joke. Impossible to test for ballistics, and the peel leaves a funky mark across ones cheeks.

Slap, thunk, fwap, all are very pleasing sound effects.

Really, though, age, experience, you name it, is all irrelevant to a healthy passion for writing. If it weren't for people opening their visions to pen and paper, where would we be today ?

message 18: by Bisky (new)

Bisky Scribbles (bisky_scribbles) | 2536 comments Mod
Rofl Nicole I've been waiting for your response to this xP (Also I started my rewrite yesterday before bed, 8k in :3 I will be joining you in querying :p)

I think I'd let the banana mold alittle bit, so it's extra wet when it hits with the possibility of banana goo shrapnel.

message 19: by Claire (new)

Claire (cycraw) | 278 comments Oooh, that's nasty. You're gonna put me off bananas for life ;-)

message 20: by Brian (new)

Brian Basham (brianbasham) | 390 comments Stop the Banana violence! I prefer to make banana bread or pudding. Much better uses for them!

Writers write. It doesn't matter how much life experience you have. Everyone evolves as they get older. Your passions may change as you get older. Your writing may suffer for it. You may be a better writer now than you are 20 years from now. Telling anyone to wait and put off their dreams is just plain foolish. I don't want to speculate on their motives for sending you those messages. My advice is to do what makes you happy.

In this world happiness is difficult to maintain. If there is one thing I have learned it is this. You have to make yourself happy. Others may help from time to time, but that doesn't always last. You have to do it for yourself. It is a choice you can make. There are plenty of unhappy people in this world that would love for you to join them. They try to discourage you. Some will actively try to bring you down. Don't let them. Continue to do what makes you happy.

message 21: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Michelle | 450 comments Mod
Ok kiddos, Zombie Nicole is back…but with coffee and having read stuffs :p (And also Bisky, Yay! We get to complain to each other again xp) Okay *deep breath* here I go:

I was originally gonna add that I was sure these people sending these messages were miserable writers who were jealous of the successes you've already accomplished before even publishing yet, people who just want to see you down just for their own self-gratification, but I ended up deleting it bc I didn't want to seem harsh or offend anyone, but I wish I just kept it lol Also, no offense to anyone (that always makes things better, right? :p)

I mean I agree life-experience is, of course, super essential, but if you waited to experience every little thing you write about first before putting pen to paper, you will never end up writing. Experience what you can and research the crap out of everything else as if you had experienced it. If your character is an astronaut do you really think you're going to become one before writing about your MC? No. But you can research it and watch clips of real astronauts, and interview them, feel their emotions, listen to their stories, and still produce a killer MC.

What the heck does age have to do with it anyway? There are older folks who've never experienced much of anything. They've never traveled or been introduced to new cultures or peoples, and they just sit there in their ignorance bliss like they know everything. Sorry, honey! News flash! Someone in their 20s could very well have loved and lost just like you, or traveled, or had adequate schooling with an abundance of knowledge. It's very well possible that a younger person could have more experience and are more qualified than the likes of those people sending negative, rude messages to people telling them to quit their dreams. Bug off, B.

Sorry if this seems rant-y or whatever, but I have things to say lol And I truly do take offense to people that think they're so much better, even if they are well-established authors. I mean come on, you had to start somewhere. And yeah maybe you didn't start writing till you were 40, but then REALLY who are you to tell us to "live life first" if you lack your own "experience" of writing as a younger individual? Seems a little hypocritical, don't it? How do you really know that you must put off writing first if you haven't even explored all avenues to successful writing? Therefore, I find your "advice" invalid. Sorry. Maybe these people sending these messages should focus on their lives than other peoples. Just think how much more they could get done if they only worried about their own shit.

To conclude, Bisky said it best, just keep writing. Always and no matter what.

And with that, Zombie Nicole is leaving the building *Dramatic exit*

message 22: by Mark (new)

Mark Bordner * Standing ovation *

message 23: by Brittany (new)

Brittany Willows (brittanymwillows) I could not have said that better myself, Nicole! Totally agree with everything you just said. :D

message 24: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Thorogood (tonythorogood) I'm afraid I don't agree a writer needs to live first every human being in my opinion needs to live first and then worry about other things. Teachers should spend a year in the work force before telling kids what life is all about. Writing is about life, art is a human beings response to the world if you have never responded how can you create art.

message 25: by Mark (new)

Mark Bordner Where's my banana ?

message 26: by Brian (new)

Brian Basham (brianbasham) | 390 comments If you are writing fiction then what can the real world teach you about your fictional world? You don't need real world experience to make up a new world. That new world doesn't have to follow the rules of the current world.

message 27: by Marilynn (new)

Marilynn Farmer (marilynnfarmer) | 6 comments Mark wrote: "I think that someone saying something like that should be slapped with a banana. If a person has a passion for writing, that is wonderful, and a gift of the soul. Pay no mind to such negative dri..."

Absolutely. Couldn't agree more. Real world experience will naturally come with living. If writing is your passion, then by all means pursue it with gusto. But you *do* have to get out and let your hair down once in a while. New experiences will only enrich your writing!

message 28: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Wolfenberger | 85 comments I studied Journalism in college, so my views may be a little skewed here, but I don't believe you need life experiences to tell a good story. Research and conversations with the right people can be just as effective at building up the believability of the worlds you create. Take Michael Crichton for instance. Sure, he was a doctor, but look at the backs of any of his books any you'll find a bibliography with several pages of cited works he used for research.

message 29: by Kevin (last edited Feb 04, 2014 11:02PM) (new)

Kevin Wolfenberger | 85 comments @Bisky, as for people telling you to stop writing and live your life first, they may be rude in saying it, but I don't know that they're intentionally being malicious. My dad tells me all the time to stop writing and to focus on a 'real' career. Writing takes a lot of time and most writers never succeed financially. Even if the people messaging you are wrong (and in this case they certainly are), people may think they're giving you sage advice in dissuading you from focusing on a writing career so early in life.

message 30: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Thorogood (tonythorogood) I think you all like to pat each other on the back a bit aren't we good, but my point is not that a writer needs a regular job, far from it my point is that a writer needs a full life what ever that may involve.

message 31: by Claire (new)

Claire (cycraw) | 278 comments Anthony, I don't think anyone here thinks that writing does not improve with experience. They were trying to point out that a young person's experience is not necessarily lacking in comparison with an older person's.

Like I said before, the older you are the more your writing matures. I'm not saying a younger person's writing is childish or unprofessional or bad or whatever else, but if Bisky, for instance, keeps writing for the next ten years, she will see the difference when she looks back.

Writing is a craft. And like with any craft, the more you practice, the better you get. Some people are more adept at it than others, some learn faster than others. Therefore saying that a younger person should stop is quite frankly a stupid thing to say.

message 32: by Bisky (new)

Bisky Scribbles (bisky_scribbles) | 2536 comments Mod
@Kevin the feeling I got from those messages was about my writing itself, nothing financial or about the career. I don't focus all my time on writing I also study to be a teacher.

Which also leads me to Anthony's point because he also mentioned teachers... The whole thing behind this is that you are making assumptions on someone's life that you know nothing about. What you constitute as a full life and enough experience to create art may be very different from someone elses.

The focus of those messages was my age. Therefore, they assume that I've not experienced life enough to be able to write. But everyone is different. Life experience does affect writing, but you don't have to be older to gain the experience for that. Anything else I need I can get from research.

message 33: by Claire (new)

Claire (cycraw) | 278 comments I don't know if any of you saw, but an agent posted a link on Twitter about an 11 year old boy who wrote a book. He started calling agents. (They got a little angry at him.) Finally one agent said email me and we'll see. That night he got a contract. His book is apparently a success. Proof that age isn't everything.

message 34: by Bisky (new)

Bisky Scribbles (bisky_scribbles) | 2536 comments Mod
*Grabs niece*

*Gives phone* Go! Go! Go!

message 35: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Hawes (little_red_writes) | 143 comments Um, didn't Christopher Paolini write Eragon when he was only 16 years old? I wrote a fictional mystery series when I was 13. OK, so I didn't get a contract:-) But I wasn't putting my work out there. We shouldn't discourage young people from writing. Every year I had my 5th grade class participate in the jr. NANOWRIMO. You never know how that might spark a future novelist. I've had two of my former students (who are now seniors in high school) tell me they are writing books and seeking publication:)

message 36: by Nicole (last edited Feb 05, 2014 08:55AM) (new)

Nicole Michelle | 450 comments Mod
I think Anthony has a point with what he's saying about having life experience. And one could add that life/experience comes with age, which is the main theme of this discussion; however, one could argue that there are many older authors with plenty of life experience and still produce (arguably) lesser quality work than their younger counterparts. For example, Stephanie Meyer, EL James, and even the great Hemingway was criticized for being a drunk and lacking any real writing technique and all he produced was dialogue (which, in many critics view, isn't enough as far as writing techniques for a "good" story goes).

message 37: by Jevon (new)

Jevon Knights (jevonknights) | 46 comments Experience is good, but not necessary.

And an 11 year old boy got an agent? I'm wasting time...

message 38: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Wolfenberger | 85 comments I suppose the importance of experience has a lot to do with who your characters are. If you're writing stories about high schoolers, less life experience might even be a plus.

@Bisky, then a banana to the face it is!

message 39: by Bisky (new)

Bisky Scribbles (bisky_scribbles) | 2536 comments Mod
I hope the 11 year old's novel is something nice and fluffy. But you never know, could be the next Stephen King in the making :p

message 40: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Michelle | 450 comments Mod
The horror! (Literally :p)

message 41: by Bisky (new)

Bisky Scribbles (bisky_scribbles) | 2536 comments Mod
Oooooo :P terrible

message 42: by Claire (new)

Claire (cycraw) | 278 comments His book was about his experiences of being the new kid in school. Apparently it's very funny (for that age range).

message 43: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Strong (samanthalstrong) | 206 comments @Bisky - I'm curious what it is that you said to set off a firestorm of people DM'ing you.

message 44: by J. David (new)

J. David Clarke (clarketacular) | 418 comments Tell them to shove it.

message 45: by Bisky (new)

Bisky Scribbles (bisky_scribbles) | 2536 comments Mod
@S, it started around my birthday and I get them whenever someone asks me my age.

message 46: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Strong (samanthalstrong) | 206 comments That's dumb.


message 47: by Neil (new)

Neil Bursnoll | 109 comments Oh my God you're young so you must be inferior!

Seriously, who thinks that shiznit?

message 48: by Bisky (new)

Bisky Scribbles (bisky_scribbles) | 2536 comments Mod
To be honest when I was 18 I thought 23 was sooooo adult.

Considering that I just had left over mcdonalds for dinner, I now think otherwise.


message 49: by Brian (new)

Brian Basham (brianbasham) | 390 comments I know plenty of people who are in their 40s who act more immature than my friends who are 24.

message 50: by Jevon (new)

Jevon Knights (jevonknights) | 46 comments Yeah it's an individual thing. Some people also lose their youthful spirit because of their experiences.

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