Are you a young writer? What it’s like getting old.

clockLast month I turned 29. According to many grants, competitions, festivals and publications, that makes this my last, official year of being a young writer.

Loosing this label is a little disheartening, panic-inducing some might say. It’s as if the clock hands have been suddenly wound forward.

I know it’s not true. There’s no definitive cut-off date for being young. According some other writer opportunities I was old after twenty-five. I also once attended a panel at Brisbane Writers Festival of ‘young, precocious’ writers who were all in their thirties.

We all know the distinction between young and old is far blurrier than cut-off ages allow for but there is something quite worrying as an artist (and no doubt as a woman) about being no longer ‘young’.  I have conversations with other writers where the question comes up “are you still young?” and I laugh about having one year left while in the background I see a skeletal figure in a black robe shaking his hour glass, making the sand run that much quicker.

Ok, I’m being melodramatic.

The worst thing I can do of course is let it get to me. When I start worrying about ‘running out of time’ the writing just goes slower.

When you start meeting with some success as a writer you also begin to feel a bit of pressure; to get published, to make money. At least I have. This pressure is often self-inflicted and all it does is bog me down.

I started writing because it was fun and if I’m not enjoying it what’s the point. I need to remember that. The business side of things can wait until I’m submitting and researching publishers. When I’m writing I should be experimenting and playing, not listening to the tick tock of the clock.

Are you a not so young writer anymore? How did you feel about the transition or did it not affect you at all? How do you deal with anxiety in general? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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