1. navyblue
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    navyblue Member

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    Does age affect your writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by navyblue, Jan 3, 2010.

    It seems like a lot of people believe that unless you've reached a certain age, you wouldn't be able to fully grasp some emotions.
    Is this true? Because this can be deadly when it comes to writing, right? If you don't truly understand some emotions, how are you to transform them to words? Or stories? :confused:

    I mean, as far as I'm concerned, sadness is sadness, happiness is happiness, it is what it is, what else is there?
     
  2. bux
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    bux Member

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    There's an entire spectrum of emotions that need to be considered, sometimes you can be happy and sad, its not so much living and dealing with these emotions as it is to understanding what they are and how they affect different people.

    I'd believe that some people never experience some highs or lows in their own life but are still able to write about them from reading books where these emotions are portrayed, so in respect to the age/wisdom ratio I'd say it doesn't matter how old you are as long as you grasp what deprivation and glory are.
     
  3. Tall and Weird
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    Tall and Weird New Member

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    As a child, everything is simpler. The way to react is the way you react.

    It's only with experience that we can understand that different people can react differently to the same things.

    Or, as I like to say, there's an infinite range of greys between black and white.
     
  4. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Anger, shame, embarassment, self-consciousness, deviousness, guilt ... you know, all kinds of things. In writing, I think being able to notice and present behaviors and gestures that reflect how a character is feeling or what he intends is way more important than describing the emotions he feels. Probably no one experiences emotions in exactly the same way as someone else does, but that doesn't mean we can't detect certain ways people behave that suggest to us whether they're happy or sad or angry or whatever. That we don't ever truly know exactly how someone else feels something accounts for the fact that we're sometimes "wrong" (and, importantly, so are our fictional characters).
     
  5. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    It comes down to experience, and ONLY experience. Everyone knows what they feel, regardless of age.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The advice "Write what you know" still stands. More than anything, this relates to the emotional responses you portray.

    More experience develops an appreciation of the subtleties of emotion. Being young doesn't mean you don't have the experiential basis to know the emotions well enough to write them, but it does impact the likelihood. It also makes it less likely that emotionally intense events are far enough behind you that you can see them dispassionately. Sometimes you need to be able to set aside your own feelings and see the situation "sideways."
     
  7. Dermit
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    Dermit Member

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    If everyone limited themselves to writing only what they knew fiction would be really, really boring.

    Age (and, presumably, thereby experience) is rarely going to hurt a writer's work. There isn't any real replacement for having Been There or Done That. But it's not the end all be all of writing fiction.

    It's possible for someone to write a heart wrenching love story without ever having been in love - just as it's possible to write a tale of gruesome murder without ever having been a murderer. In both cases it's a matter of getting into your character's head and making the motivations and reactions plausible. You're doing yourself a disservice if you think, "well, I can't write about X because I'm only Y years old and have yet to experience it."

    Try it. It's okay to speculate. Sure, it might fall flat...but then, Don Juan could write a story on love, and it might fall flat. You won't know until you try.

    Fiction is, after all, the fine art of telling lies. In the end, the reader isn't likely to know or care if there's any truth behind the fibs you're feeding them, so long as they go down smoothly enough.
     
  8. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    Does age affect your writing?

    Maybe. Yes to a point, for the more one practices using words to describe feeling and everything else, the better one becomes. It seems people in their teenage years, or younger, are not as proficient as someone in their twenties or older. However, many young writers are very good. Just ask someone if they prefer the young Stephen King or the old. Perhaps youth also infuses a work with passion and inventiveness, and helps compensate for lack of experience.
     
  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It has to do less with emotions and more with experience. And by experience I mean writing experience. Life experience is not that important because, like Dermit said, one can write a murder story without ever having been a murderer.

    A teenager can experience the same emotions a 50 year old can. It's just that the writing experience of the 50 year old allows him/her to display those emotions using better prose, etc.
     
  10. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    You asked, does age affect your writing?

    I say, in some ways, yes, age does affect your writing. You gain more skill and talent as you get older. But truley gifted writers can start young as well. What's to say you can't be a sixteen year old genius? What's to say that you can't be forty and an aspiring writer?

    Age has nothing to do with writing, and everything to do with writing, at the same time. As you grow older you gain more experience. When you are younger you have a different point of view.

    It's not age that makes you special. It's how well you write that sets you apart from everywhere else. Some sixteen year olds can write the next new great novel and some eighty year olds can't write for beans. It's all in where your talent and strengths lie.

    But that's just my thought for the day anyway. :)
     
  11. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does age effect my writing?

    Life experiences accumulate as a function of age and intensity. For example, many young people have never experienced the death of a father. I am tough. I've pushed the intestines of a fellow soldier back into his abdominal cavity and held the skin flaps closed until medics arrived. But, when my dad...my best friend and source of strength when I fought in Nam...when he died, I got this physical lump in my chest that ached with a severe pain, one I have yet to be able to describe. I knew it was just emotions, but it burned inside and choked my breath away like having a giant hand crushing my throat in its grip. I never knew such emotional intensity existed when I was young. I would speculate that a parent losing a child might experience the same kind of physical manifestations of grief.

    Does age help in understanding and writing emotions? My own life experiences suggest that with age comes experience, although, it is certainly possible for a very young person to endure the horrors in war or the physical pain accompanying the death of a parent or the lingering effects of child abuse. Experiences produce a better writer, not age by itself.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    skill affects it more than age... here's proof:

    i've been mentoring a brilliant poet for two years now, since she was barely 14... and even back then, her worst efforts beat out the best tries you'll see on writing sites, by adults of all ages... along with much of what you see published in even the best of venues, by professionals...

    her bold grasp of reality and uncanny ability to nail it with poetic artistry exceeds that of most adults i've come across in my over 7 decades...
     
  13. truthfulapothecary
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    truthfulapothecary New Member

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    I am a teenager, and I feel I have a very advanced understanding of the human condition and emotions. I believe I always have! Sure, kids might know less about adult emotions, but child emotions are an unexplored territory!
     
  14. commissar
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    commissar New Member

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    Be true to your emotions whether you're 16 or 60. Perhaps it's not the development of your emotions, but how well you convey emotions, however simple, to the reader that matters.
     
  15. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I think age always effects everyone's writing. For most it means improvement, since age is defined by time being alive, and practicing anything takes time, thus the older person would have had more time to practice any given craft more than a young person. This conclusion would lead me to believe in most cases with age comes better proficency, better understanding, and more skill in the art of writing.

    While there are always prodigies, so yes, some young people may be able to write better than an adult, but that is the exception not the norm.

    I look back on my writing from years ago and see many mistakes and faults with it. Things I couldn't see when I was writing then, but I see now. My writing has vastly improved over the years, and if I continue practicing it will continue to improve. Thus age is a factor, since I'm only getting older in the time it takes me to pracitce.

    As for experience of age shaping the content of the writing, yes that also has an impact on the quality of the writing. For a young person everything is new, unexperienced, and often is not paid attention to during the events, thus less is remembered about the events (though this doesn't weigh in on life alterning events, because those change us and our way of thinking permenately regardless of age.)

    As we get older, we find that we have the same situations happen time and time again. Take for instance being so drunk we've puked all over ourselves. The first few times we may not pay attention to the experience while having it, but after several times, we begin to analyze the state of ourself during that experience. This also applies to most social situations similarly. After high school the drama never really seems to end. The same high school dramas continue to play out throughout most of our lives, just different players, all the same attitudes. Eventually with age we can start to spot how similarly people act to a bunch of high school students, and how things never really change. We can take a step back, much easier with age, during the situation, look at it from different (less emotionally charged places) and see people for what they are and how our reactions to their behavior will dictate the situation.

    As a teenager everything is hormonally and emotionally charged. Making unemotional observations of situations are very difficult at this time in a person's life, thus it makes it harder to use those experiences effectively in writing. I know I've tried to write stories that were based on what I experienced, and in the end it was pointless. I was too close to the situation to really observe objectively during the time, now during recollection I can't see both sides of the situation. That comes out in the writing. Either demonizing your own character or the other, because that is how it is remembered. As a teenager every situation is very self focused, our thoughts, our reactions, very little of it comes from an objective place that we gain with age, maturity, and experience.

    I understand most teenagers, and some other members of this board may have objections to this, as we have discussed whether or not teenagers make good writers on this board, and usually come to a stand still between the two camps. But, I maintain it is difficult to write during the teenage years, lack of experience usually shows in their writing (not only in content, but style and syntax,) and lack of perspective generally make most teenagers writings not publishable. They can write for fun, write to practice, write to learn, but aspiring to be published before you're 20 is even harder than it is to get published after 20.

    I think teenagers and even younger should practice writing and should feel encouraged to share it with other more experienced writers in a safe environment. I think forums like this are very good for the learning experiences of teenagers and will help them evolve into strong writers as they mature and practice. I'm not saying I think it's impossible for a teenager to write something publishable, because it's not. I'm just saying it's difficult to get published without experience, without skill. IF someone has skill and can put it into something publishable, then bully for them. But, teenagers shouldn't get their hopes up too high and have them dashed with the first rejection letter, or unfinished novel. It's part of the process of being a writer, try and try and try again.

    And young people can't expect the learning and skill to happen over night. It can take years and then even more years to learn enough and still have more to learn. Skills are like soap scum, it takes a while for them to build up.
     
  16. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    As I've grown older my writing has got better: but it is more down to my growing knowledge of things, and my skill with writing than my increasing age.
     
  17. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    To put this in perspective ... Happiness is happiness etc. but, what makes you happy today is not the same thing that would make you happy when you were five. And, when you were three, you were jealous when your older sibling got a new toy for his birthday and you wanted it for yourself. But now, jealousy might be more about your girl/boyfriend macking on someone else while you're away.

    Your life experiences dictate how your emotions effect you in your daily life. If we experienced everything the same throughout our lives, we would have no children's lit or YA lit. There would be no horror or romance or adventiure novels. There would just be one type of book and you would be bored to tears after the second one because they would all be essentially the same book!

    Each of us experiences life differently. And, the degree of our life experiences is, in many ways, determined by how long we have lived, and how well we have lived. And, to a large extent, those life experiences help to determine how our lives are molded - whether we like getting greasy under the hood of a car or the hood of a stove. whether we love to lace up ice skates and put ourselves in the trajectory of a 98 mph piece of frozen rubber flying across rock solid ice or dive into the warmer counterpart of that ice in a pool or zip up a wet suit and strap on SCUBA tanks and go for a deep water dive. And, just as our life experiences will help determine what interests us in life, they will also help to determine whether we like to read and write, or dread the thought of cracking a book open.

    So, like all those other life experiences, our emotions are effected by age, as well. And, therefore, how we write must also, necessarily, be influenced by those life experiences.

    Question: Do you suppose your "growing knowledge of things, and ... skill with writing might at all be associated with your increasing age? Again ... How we experience things in life directly influences how we relate to things in life and, therefore, how we learn.

    *(Note: "has gotten" not "has got")
     
  18. Tessadragon
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    I found age affected my writing in terms of the experience...I actually seemed more experienced as a kid than I am as an adult.
     
  19. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    No, growing older for me just means my hangovers are worse.

    And stop it! I write with the grammar peculiarities of the 18th century out of my antiquarianism, I know what I'm doing.
    I have little patience with people who do that and grammar Nazis.
     
  20. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Gee! Okay! You don't have'ta yell. (You know it'll just make the hangover headache worse.)

    I just found it amusing (although assuming/hoping you were fully aware of the grammatical faux pas) that the post declared a growth of knowledge of things and a skill with writing without acknowledging much of that necessarily comes with age - i.e. life experiences. So it seemed to me, there was at least one bit of knowledge lacking. And, if all you got out of staying alive longer was a greater drinking problem, you ain't payin' attention to the road signs.
     
  21. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    There is no reason to be sarky, though I used an exclamation mark I meant it in a friendly way.

    It also occurs to me that you missed my point and went into bashing me about the fact that I enjoy a night out; as all students do my age.
     
  22. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not being snarky, Lemex, and surely not intending to bash you for enjoying a pint. Took your exclamation point in the spirit it was given and had assumed you would, likewise, acknowledge the spirit of jest in which my retort was offered.

    Also, fully understood your argument, just didn't agree with it. Ergo, my observation that, life experience is part of the writing experience and, how we relate to the world around us directly relates to and reflects our life experiences; therefore, age must make a difference in how we write, whether we know it or not!

    Now can we bury the hatchet (somewhere other than my skull preferably)?
     
  23. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Ok, and I apologise for my sore misreading of your post. You have my unreserved apologies.

    Yr. Humble Srv.
    Lemex
     
  24. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    And if I was in a position to cross the pond right now, I'd buy the next round.
    (Just go light and avoid the head-um-aches!)
     
  25. love2listen
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    I always write about characters who are my age. I grow with them. As a kid I wrote stories about kids, and as I grew my characters went to school, had their first dates, first proms, graduation. Now I write about adults
     

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