I hate ageism too. It's been a pain, especially at one point as a game writer. Had this 28 year old who made my job a nightmare. And here's the funny thing -- I had more published and better quality material than he did. I told people about his work and gave quotes and they thought it sounded horrible. And yet, he was put in charge of the writing for the game, whilst I was the only employee under him. There was one other guy, but I think he got smart and quit early on. And it sucks, because I loved the game I was working on, but I couldn't put up with so much BS for a volunteer project.
I think that time does equal experience to some degree since people live a long time after 19. Because people live long after 19, usually, there is a massive lack of teenagers authoring the majority of good books on Goodreads. Though this is just a generalization, I don't have a Goodreads account because I think its a Pokemon rip-off. Writing is a pain. You can spend years working on a novel, trying to get it to be exactly what you want it to be, and waste money on expensive coffee. But then you find out you only know English, and you've been living in a Spanish-speaking country, and you have to start all over again while your being threatened to be deported where your novel could sell. Worst of all it would be to people who don't even know what cecina is.
I believe it does matter what "age" one is, not the biological age, that is. That doesn't mean, that age is some kind of border, but more of an inspiration among many. It influences some more, some less, but nobody isn't. Oh, and it has nothing to do with quality, except that younger writers likely have less experience, as they just haven't had as much time as older ones.
If you look at it in the publishing world age does not matter at all, there's been eight year olds published but of course their work were children books with only a few sentences. I'm indeed fourteen and a writer myself, I try hard to make my writing as best as possible and if I get a bad comment I don't whine about it and fuse because that was what I was looking for, people to tell me exactly what they thought about my writing, I wasn't looking for complements I was looking for mistakes and anything I need to keep doing/stop doing. I hardly ever get feedback on any of my writing, if I'm lucky I'll get one feedback message on it, but lots of reads. I do hope to be published one day, and I do know for a fact that right now my writing isn't really publishable because I'm so rushed, and I do intend to go back and re-write most of my books for when I'm ready to go up and send my query letters to publishing companys. I do feel the age thing sometimes, older people sometimes thinks we're not ready for such things and won't read or give feedback that is actually helpful if they see our age sometimes. But really and truley it only matters on how much the writers put in to their writings and how much they love doing it and strife to do better. Not age. I try to reach out to as much people as I can, male, female, young and old with my books even though I am a Young Adult Fiction writer and that's what I will be going in as in the publishing word no matter if I'm sixty at the time. And if you look at it not just teens read the YA books many adults do too. Anyways age shouldn't matter at all just that persons didecation and love for writing, if other writers love writing also and they see a piece of work that hasn't gotten feedback good or bad they should try to help that writer with feedback and suggestions.
Being a teen myself sometimes it's really hard for me to find someone who will have a serious conversation with me or look at my as someone other than a shallow teenager. I don't like it when people use being a teenager as an excuse though. All teenagers are perfectly capable of doing some wonderful things. It's just that they don't realize it, and the people around them don't realize it.
During the months of NaNoWriMo, I really enjoy the group of people I see at Write-Ins because they are people that don't belittle me. Certain adults judge people my age based purely on age. I'm sixteen, so I have to be a whiny, shallow slut. This is something that seriously gets on my nerves.
No. Age does not matter. I hate when people find out how old I am and things I fit a certain stereotype. I believe that teenagers are capable of wonderful things I heard a story about someone who published when he was twelve years old. He's twenty-one now, and he's making a real difference in the lives of people around him. You don't have to be a certain age to do some wonderful things, you just have to have the motivation.
The ageism thing is particularly irritating because it's done so casually. People talk about whiny teens asking for constructive criticism when what they really mean is "give me compliments!" and...that's irritating when anybody does it. Honestly, I can't imagine that the people saying these things actually check everyone's age every time it happens, so it gets to the point where, presumably, they think teens act like that because every time someone does it they assume they're dealing with a teenager. It's the same with graffiti and vandalism: any time it wasn't obviously someone else, teens get the blame.
To avoid the response that comes up every time I mention this in actual conversation, I'll add this: it doesn't matter if you do check the age of whatever whiny deviant you've stumbled across and it doesn't matter if they are a teenager every time. Your anecdotal evidence doesn't allow you to be casually ageist any more than it allows you to be casually racist.
It's obviously just as bad when it happens the other way around, but I've never actually noticed that being done so casually.
Thank you. Thank you sooo much for opening this discussion.
I do believe that age makes a difference in writing - maybe there are different themes, different views etc. - and I'm totally fine with that.
However, I do not think that artwork should be judged by that. Just because the theme is love (when it comes to a teenager), the poem doesn't need to be bad (I'll admit freely that many are, but this applies to older people just as much!)
What really annoys me about the age differences, though, is the constant underestimation. I hardly get that on dA as I hardly get constructive or any feedback at all, but I know from other forums how it goes. As an 18-year-old, I try to give constructive criticism and write a comment about twice as long as the original text - and people just IGNORE it - no response, nothing. Or, even worse, the arrogant "You're eighteen years old, wait until you're my age and you'll look at this differently." SO ANNOYING! I mean, I spend hours to help someone out and I really don't care for the age, and this is all I get? Same thing the other way round: Many people 30+ just don't seem to be interested in the text, and if they really do take the time to read it (against all odds), the comment I get treats me like a baby. Just as bad in real life.
I mean, of course there are some differences between the ages, but that's what makes it interesting and offers opportunities rather than limiting them or access or anything.
(Sorry, I'm a little touche when it comes to the subject.... Too many hours of critiquing in vain.)
I go out of my way to have teen beta readers, because I WRITE FOR TEENS. I know many authors who do the same. Teen readers/writers can be just as insightful -- if not more -- than their grown-up counterparts. Nobody calls you out on continuity errors like young readers!
Oh, I think that really depends on the reader. I just have the impression that older people seem to start believing that they don't need to point out everything they see and let the writer search for repetitions himself - which, of course, doesn't always work out, I know that all too well.
Yet again... You look for teens because you write teen lit. What about the one that should be open to all? Teen writers are a different matter, logically.
I know writers who are critique partners with teens. And I will say that my critique partners currently range from early twenties to forties. So part of it is who you happen to run into, I think. I would never discount advice or feedback based on age.
As a teenager myself, I can admit that age makes a difference. But then, so does personality. Plenty of my friends and classmates write but because they lack the knowledge, the diction, and the strive to be better writers (but never the dedication) needed to create well-written stories and poetry, their works are not truly publishable.
However, they contain a passion for writing that if developed and depended, they could write anything and be published anywhere.
So no, age does not matter...only your mental elevation and your will to write do.
Age might matter when it comes to experience, but a thirty year old hasn't necessarily been writing as long as a nineteen year old. Maybe the first guy is older, but he may have only been writing since college. The younger guy could have been writing since he was eight. The older guy could also be really lazy...
Generally, I think age does give one more experience, and therefore more knowledge. But that's not always the case. There are some young writers out there who can describe and submit truly moving, fantastic pieces of art. Yet there's also the teenagers that have barely any writing talent and flaunt what they have anyway because they're popular. Honestly, I don't want to offend anyone here, but this is my opinion. It's all about interpretation, both of the writer's and the reader's, as well as personal preferences. Some people like the style of writing that young writers have - that's fine. Others prefer a perhaps more 'matured' writing of the older generation. Overall, both the young and old can be matured and well written - it's just what you like to read. Oh, and about those comments of protesting because you're too young: I see your point. It's a cracked, worn-out, clichéd point that is sighing in exasperation, but can be true for some people. You shouldn't penalise a person just because they say they are too young to understand and write any better. All you have to do is show them the path, encourage them to take it, and then leave them alone.
I never put my age into the question, but when i do I only see the difference from my point of view, retrospectively looking back at myself 7-8 years ago and figuring out what I did wrong. But never did I compare my age to another generation :/
J: I have no fucking idea why... I've seen great art by people about 5 or 6 years old, and yet everyone still treats it like it's cute... I see how this could apply here in poetry, somewhat. Great poetry doesn't just come from adults who claim to know what they're doing. maybe it's because they could explain every aspect of their poem that makes them seem more professional and therfore better? Many popular poets study and use all the terminology. "I just made a poem of Tercets" sounds a lot more professional than just "I made a poem of verses with 3 lines each"
Lucy-MerrimanFeatured By OwnerDec 4, 2012Student General Artist
One last thing. I don't know how important personal experience is. I feel like not only can a writer write about people with different backgrounds and life experiences than them, but they absolutely should! Makes it more interesting. Plus, you're allowed to make things up. That's half the fun.
Lucy-MerrimanFeatured By OwnerDec 4, 2012Student General Artist
Two things come to mind related to age. The first is: 10,000 hours. According to psychologist Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours to master a craft, give or take. True genius in a field, he argued, simply put in the hours. Mozart practiced piano 3 hours a day, every day since he was three years old. This means that in nine years, by age 12, he was a master pianist. But! Most teens haven't put in the hours yet. They're less expert because they're less experienced. The teens who have been crazy successful--Amanda Hocking, Christopher Paloni, etc--put in more hours per week writing than most professional writers.
I mean, there are other factors to becoming a good writer, but that's for a different thread.
The other thing that came to mind was that people who feel discouragement write less. The publishing process is in itself discouraging, and it helps to have a solid base of encouragement when you're young, so you can have something to draw upon when you need to power through your next story.
I was fortunate to be first published when I was 14. It was in a sci-fi anthology entirely written by teens, and all the stories but one (not my own) really suck. I would never show that story to anybody now. But I'm really glad that, at the time, nobody I care about said, "This story totally sucks, you should scrap it and wait five years before you try to publish anything." Being published in that anthology and getting the $100 "scholarship" (yay! The price of a math textbook!) really made me feel like, "hey, this is a real thing. Maybe I can actually do this." That and other experiences helped me really solidify my identity as a writer. Having this really strong writing identity, I feel, is what helps me get through all the rejections in between publications.
Now, don't get me wrong, everything I've ever written that I've published or am proud of (not always the same thing! ), I've revised after constructive feedback on an early draft. I guess I'm just saying that, for novice writers (and a young age can be shorthand for novice) I try to temper criticism with encouragement. For more advanced or serious writers, I'm okay with being more blunt.
Earl Sweatshirt is 18 and he can write songs like Chum, gives a lot of credit to younger writers in my view. I think there are a lot of young people in music who write incredible songs but they're often not considered as they're not novelists or pure poets. [link]
Well....because when you sell a novel, you're really selling yourself. Your "brand". When I wrote my first book I was 17. At that time (2005) YA wasn't what it is now. I felt like it wasn't really respected (which was true, to an extent), and was always worried my work would be pigeonholed because of my age. Now, on the other side of it, I feel like I'm running out of time to sell myself as the "young author" who actually made it, ala Paolini, Atwater-Rhodes, etc, because I'm 25. Age shouldn't matter, but sadly sometimes it does.
I know a few authors who were first published as teens who are glad to not be the "teen author" anymore because it's a brand that comes with stigma. "She only sold because she's a teen." "Her work is good -- for a teen." Etc.
So don't worry about that. Just write your best book.
I think as far as writing goes, it should only really matter if there is mature content in the story (and even then, that one is a bit shifty). I think that when it's categorized by age though, they are saying that they believe more teens/young adults/ etc would connect to the book easier because of the relative age and situations of the characters and such.
Now when it's teens vs adults who write, it should be the same. Sure, teens obviously will lack experience, but these are good years to start developing a talent for writing. Everyone should be subject to the same amount of criticism and similar standards in writing. Now if we have a situation where a child is trying to write a story (like, 11 or younger), they obviously haven't even gotten through higher English classes, and will very likely not know how to write at an adult level. Not to mention, children might be a bit more sensitive to certain criticism, so I guess one should be a bit more careful? Idk
i'm of the opinion that anyone who uses their age as an argument clearly hasn't developed the ability to make cohesive arguments. If they're using a trait that they can't control as an excuse for their stance, i have no time for them.
does age matter? yes and no, development is a real thing. there are very real differences between an 8 year old and a 14 year old and a 17 year old and a 30 year old and a 50 year old. These differences, i find matter less as you age and become fewer. They shift from developmental degree and education to experiences but not all at the same rate of course. Maturation is a real process...some people never finish it, others finish earlier than we might expect.
When it comes to writing i have to say that age matters only in degree of education and experience. Neither of these prohibit a young person from writing something great or ensure an older person will produce better.
I will say, however, that it has been my experience that with age and experience comes subtly and that is where, i find, the most moving art comes. I can tell you, having spent years performing and judging performances that younger teens are not incapable of selling adult experiences, but i can very easily tell you the ones who have experienced and truly understood the pains in their past and are using it to interpret and those who are just trying to understand someone else's pain.
Age is a dodgy topic because we all know, or should know, examples of every age group in both a positive and a negative sense. Let's begin with the neurology. The brain is developing as we age. We already knew most of this development happens during adolescence. However, recent findings suggest the brain continues development, albeit at a lower pace, during early adulthood. On average, the human brain finds its optimal level at about 28 years of age. [link]
In this context, age does matter, but perhaps not in terms of capability. What I mean is, the lack of development isn't defining as to what people can achieve. However, it is an extra hurdle to jump, a wall to scale. For adolescents, this wall is significantly greater than for a young adult. This doesn't mean it's impossible for them to get over this biological problem, it's just harder.
Now, that may seem disconnected from writing and life experience, but it isn't. The thing is, life experience can only get you so far, as others in the thread have correctly pointed out: we can't experience everything and we write about more than what we've experienced. How would I know how it feels to fight in a war when my country hasn't been at war in my lifetime? How would I know what it's like to be burnt at the stake after an inherently unfair witch trial? We can't know those things from experience.
However, humankind has these nifty little built in abilities called empathy and theory of mind. We are able to put ourselves in another person's shoes. Through empathy, we can correctly identify feelings of other people, and through theory of mind, we can project that onto fictional people. We can imagine what they feel like because we can feel what they feel. How do we know what to feel? Simple: humans have a limited range of emotions. By experiencing these emotions ourselves, we can then extrapolate those emotions to forms we deem appropriate for an imagined scenario. Of course, for this, one must have experienced these emotions and have been able to correctly identify them. (At least, it is for optimal writing. It's possible to do this without having a clue, but I can't recommend that) For reference: [link] [link]
There's one more thought that needs to be examined here, and that's how do we make up for emotions we haven't experienced yet, or not often. The answer, I'd wager, is emulation. We can emulate emotions by studying them in other people. With enough research, even psychopaths are ultimately able to emulate emotions they can't actually feel. The same counts for writers. Even if we can't rely on our experience, we can rely on our research. How correct that research will be is entirely up to the individual.
Hence, a teenager can write a brilliant piece of literature, but that teen will have a lot more hardship writing that piece than a young adult of the same skill level, other factors notwithstanding.
Young writers don't have the life experience to write well.
I think it's undeniably true that an older person is more likely than a younger person to have more varied life experience. However, it's no guarantee, and more than a few older people are too thick to learn much no matter what their experience. On the other hand, some teens are insightful enough to learn a great deal from a more limited experience and are open-minded enough to learn from the experiences of others.
I'm a teen, so I shouldn't be held to the same standard.
Either you want to be treated like a child in all things, or you don't. Pick one. You can't have it both ways.
I'm in my forties, why would I want to read YA?
More to the point: I'm male. Why would I want to read YA *romance*? Harry Potter was fun, though.
Teens are too immature to take criticism.
So are a lot of adults.
I'm only sixteen, what do you want from me?
To be at least as good as the best fantasy writer I've seen here, who happened to be 14 at the time I read her work. Sadly, she's been away from the site for a couple of years now.
I'm thirty, I know more than other people because I'm thirty.
And I'm over 40, so shut up.
Teens don't understand my writing./Older people don't understand my writing.
And whose fault do you suppose THAT is?
Why are you so mean to me, I'm only fourteen!
For the same reason you have to eat your veggies. Honest critique is good for you. The claque telling you how awesome you write is the equivalent of a glazed jelly doughnut.
Your opinion doesn't matter because I'm older than you.
As has been said (and said and said...), what makes the difference is life experience -- and even more so, perspective. The former usually comes with age, but doesn't have to. My moms died when I was 13, and believe me that was pretty major in the life experience bucket (for example). But perspective, I think, takes longer. I'm only starting to feel as if I'm gaining it now, decades later.
My 17-year-old daughter is a case in point. She had leukemia when she was 11 and was in treatment for 2-1/2 years. That' a biggy in the life experience category. As an adult looking at her, I'll be the first one to say that she grew from the experience, but what I don't see is perspective.
Perhaps, maybe, actual experience isn't key. It's what you learn from it over the long term. And that requires perspective -- and from my vantage point, perspective equals thought and time.
Teenagers have less life experience, more spastic hormones, and more insecurities than most adults. Their writings probably reflect that. However, generalizations about any group have plenty of exceptions. Anybody who applies themselves and does research is going to do well. If teenagers want adults to take them seriously, they're going to have to take themselves seriously and hold themselves to adult standards first. Of course, people will be people, and sometimes we judge books by their covers.
Another thought - perhaps the people who post discussions entitled "I DONT NO WHAT TO NAME MY OC HELP" are obviously teenagers or preteens, whereas the teenagers who post more interesting discussions could be mistaken for adults. Just a thought, and I'm definitely not trying to say that anybody's mistaken me for an adult.
And here's a mini-rant: I interpret "You're too old to get my writing" as "You've had too much life experience to understand me." I don't feel the need to explain the stupidity of this statement.
Age matters in the sense that teenagers live in a very different world and interpret it with a very different brain. But it's a grievous mistake to see different perspectives in literature as inferior. After all, isn't the point of literature to put yourself in somebody else's shoes? While a teenager's writing might be different, they are still perfectly capable of writing well, and older people are still perfectly capable of writing terribly. Teenagers can take criticism well and older people can take it badly. It might be the case that teenagers tend to be less skilled as authors and tend to respond less gracefully to criticism, but patterns are not law. One of the great challenges of being a young writer is being able to push yourself beyond this idea that you're in a different league from the grown-ups. Likewise, older writers often suffer from the belief that they have nothing left to learn. The best advice I can give to any person in regards to their age is to pretend you don't have one. "Too young" and "too old" are just excuses.
Age probably shouldn't matter, but people tend to stress it so much that it does matter. And usually certain age groups get associated with certain things that creates a generally negative image for them all because a few (or the majority) of their peers get noticed for it.
For example, the crazy 13-year olds who think they're so cool because they can finally use the "fuck" word online without getting in trouble by their parents. Or the spoiled 16-year olds who insist they know everything. Or the snobbish 24-year olds who are fresh out of college and think they have all the talent in the world. Or the bitter 30 year olds who take out their lack of a "satisfying and successful" life online on poor unsuspecting victims.
Does age matter? Good question. I tend to think it doesn't matter nearly as much as people think. To a certain degree, it does. Age is a fair indicator of neurological development. But that applies mostly in young children. Once you hit your teens, can you really say age is the deciding factor in anything?
I would raise another question to go with this line of thought: If age isn't so important, why do we think it matters? Is it because age is an easy regulator for authority? Think about all the laws related to age: Sex is illegal until X age. Drinking is illegal until Y age. Actually buying alcohol is illegal until Z age. Getting a learner's license, getting a probationary license, getting a full license all come with age restrictions. Smoking, seeing certain movies - all have age restrictions.
Could it be that with authority saying "At this B age you are ready for C activity?" Is having an affect on our perception, as a culture, of what age means? Or did that perception already exist to dictate authority's use of age as an appropriate measure?
Lucy-MerrimanFeatured By OwnerDec 4, 2012Student General Artist
That's an interesting point, because all of those examples have to do with personal responsibility. However, I would argue that a person ought to take personal responsibility for what they write as soon as they write it, regardless of age.
Lucy-MerrimanFeatured By OwnerDec 4, 2012Student General Artist
I guess I kind of view the excuse of, "you shouldn't be too critical of my story because of my age" as a way of shirking the responsibility of your writing. It's flaws are due to some out-of-control circumstance rather than the writer's own imagination.
You get no argument from me. We often link age to inexperience and I can see why, but they are not the same thing. There's also no big road signs saying "Do not learn more than this amount until you are X years old."
Inexperience is not an excuse, it's a reason to grow.
Bioligically teenagers are going through some crazy hormonal shit and it does make the more emotional, more prone to outbursts when they get criticized and more likely to write stories that mirror their emotional state. That's not to say those stories will be good or bad.
What actually matters more is drive, experience and your own ability to asses your work and improve. A newer writer, whether 13, 30 or 60 will probably all write with similar writing naivety than someone who has been writing for 5. 10 years.
Life experience does relate to subject matter however. I've read some fantastic novels written by people who have experienced something incredible and retell it in a novel. That novel would not be as good if that person hadn't experienced that thing. From an ex Cop writing crime fiction to an ex Hostess writing about working in bars. That kind of experience lends a great realism but it's not always neccessary. Then you've got JK Rowling who has said that had her Mother not died Harry Potter would be a very different story as it does focus on the magic of a mother's love and such. But you can be any age and have your mother die. If you're 16 or 60 write about what you know, what you feel and how you want to express that and it will come across fantastically. If you don't know but want to write, do your research don't just make it up. If you want to write about a mother of 3 who is watching her kids go off to university, perhaps try to find a mother who has had her kids leave home and grow up to see how she feels. All writers do their research where the work needs it. All artists do.
As to attitude online, if you run about crying and whinging and going "but it shouldn't matter don't treat me like a child wah wah wah" people are going to ignore your tantrum and treat you like a child. If you act calmly and just make good stuff no one will care.