When I started taking circus classes just about 2 years ago, I forgot to ask if I was too old (or too completely-out-of-shape, or too spine-held-together-by-titanium). When I hang upside down from a hoop in the air alongside people half my age (some of whose parents are younger than me) – it doesn’t matter. A lot of this, of course, is mindset. Many people my age would find all sorts of reasons to avoid taking on the circus arts as a hobby in their mid forties.
Writing a book is similar to my aerial mindset – there’s no age limit, in either direction. If you have something to say and feel committed and compelled enough to say it, you can, and should, write a book.
Let’s look at the potential impact of writing a book in the various stages of life.
What could a teenager or better yet, a young child possibly have to write about? A better question would be – what don’t they have to write about? Remember, this is the time of life when imagination is on fire and uncensored, constant thoughts and ideas have no ceilings, and most importantly, (hopefully) nobody has told them all the reasons why they “can’t” or “shouldn’t” write a book. Without any of that mental nonsense in the way, all that’s left to do is write!
Potential Impact: Talk about understanding your target audience! If you’re a young person writing children’s or young adult books for your peers, you have a ready made reader base. You’re also carving out a HUGE head start for yourself in creating an author brand that could potentially grow and evolve over decades.
Finally, a young person proactive enough to write a book is learning how to develop, follow through, and complete a significant-sized project, work with others along the way (illustrator, cover designer, editor, etc.), and accept criticism without taking it personally. Imagine gaining such a set of life and career skills at a young age and how it might impact their future!
Once a potential author establishes a career, whether working for someone else or as an entrepreneur working for themselves, they begin building a base of skills, ideas, and knowledge. At this stage, whether in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or beyond, many authors write their “expert” books in areas like business or personal development, usually to help bolster their personal brand.
Or, perhaps their book is based on certain perspectives and ideas about life that they’ve developed – ones that other people could benefit from. Many of these books are launched from the simple but powerful paradigm shifting question – “What if…”
Potential Impact: These are the “selfish/selfless” books. They’re “selfish” because they allow an author to showcase what they’ve learned, and “selfless” because of the potential life changing impacts on others.
In business, books like these act as a better business card to elevate the author’s professional status. The paradigm shifting books have the power to shine an even bigger spotlight on the author – transforming them from a face in the masses, to a voice FOR the masses!
At a certain age, usually around retirement, a whole new set of questions arise: “How can I give back by sharing what I’ve learned? How can I document the life I’ve lived and the lessons it has yielded, to improve someone else’s future?” These are the legacy authors. For the majority, the shape of that written legacy is a memoir, sometimes with twists like personal development models woven in, or sometimes in the form of fiction if that delivers their story more powerfully.
Potential Impact: Lasting and heartfelt. These are the books, I’ve found, that impact readers the most deeply and personally. The obvious reasons for this are, to be blunt (and my legacy authors have told me this) – when you’re quite obviously nearing the finish line and have little to lose, it’s time to tear the walls down. It’s time to tell it like it is, and hit people between the eyes so they are absolutely clear on what you’re telling them and what they should do about it.
The most powerful legacy books pull no punches.
Which of these scenarios resonated best with you?
Remember – age is just a number. A 12 year old can possess the clarity of thinking to figure out a profound life secret and craft it into a “legacy” book. A 30 year old can concoct a magical, wildly imaginative children’s book series that children of all ages can’t get enough of for years to come.
And no matter how old you are, if you’ve found a way to tightrope walk over the pit of personal and professional dragons that got you here – as the foremost expert in surviving your life, you have a story to tell.