"They" can't stop you

Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Many of you know I'm a communications instructor as well as a writer. I recently heard another instructor say that early in his career he felt like he wasn't qualified to teach students just a few years younger than he was, and when he got older, he felt like he couldn't relate to them. Now, though, years later, when asked how he felt about those earlier theories and how he relates to his students, he said he doesn't care how they feel because he has something to offer. I love that response, because many writers feel the same way.

When we begin, we may feel like we aren't qualified to call ourselves writers, and after years of work, may feel disconnected from a younger audience. When writers pay attention to the latest blockbuster books and movies, feeling out of touch may be the norm. That probably isn't your audience anyway, and letting others dictate the type of writing you do is a mistake. You have something else to offer.

When you are 20, you worry about what other people think of you. When you are 40, you don't care what other people think of you, and when you are 60, you realize no one was thinking about you anyway. I'm closer to 60 than 40, so am happy to say that putting myself out there isn't as scary as it once was. I don't know if it's because many people I deal with are younger and seem less intimidating, or after having been a writer for so long feel a higher level of confidence. It's probably some of both.

Recently, I realized that in 100 years, the planet will be populated with an (almost) entirely different group of people. Most of us who are here now will not be here then. So, what are we worried about? Is it that "they" may not understand you? To be honest, "they" may not care if you succeed or not. My advice is to stop worrying, because "they" aren't permanent. And "they" shouldn't determine how you perceive your work.

In 100 years, you will have been a writer. And that won't change. You have something to offer. "They" can't stop you.

Mary Horner writes fiction and nonfiction, teaches communications, worries about getting older, but not as much about what others think of her writing.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Mary--It's lovely to think that something positive comes with age. Most of the other "perks"... NOT so lovely.

Thanks for the reminder about what matters and what doesn't.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Profound post, Mary! Thanks for this. It's exactly what I needed to hear today, and you said it so eloquently. :)

Renee Roberson said...

Mary, I was actually telling someone yesterday that I feel like I have so much more to write about in my 40s than I did in my 20s. And hopefully that maturity will show up in my work and projects and result in more success! If nothing else, I hope people will find something relatable in it. And feeling more confident these days is also making me more prolific, so it's a win!

Mary Horner said...

Thanks for all your positive comments, I hope that as women get older we realize the positive benefits we have to offer to others and ourselves! Sioux, you are right, there are many negatives associated with aging, but I do try to stay positive, although some days are more challenging than others. Angela, I'm glad you liked it! Renee, it's interesting to see recognizable patterns and repetitions of behaviors that we can identify and write about!

Pat Wahler said...

This is a post that will have many writers nodding in agreement-including me. Thanks, Mary!


Nila said...

I’m much closer to 20 than 40, and sometimes I really do feel this pressure and stress about what other people think of me, but I like this post because it reminds me that it really doesn’t matter because my life is mine, and I shouldn’t let my perceptions of others’ perceptions of me influence what I put out there.

Unknown said...

Oh, I can so relate to this post. I have always loved to write, but never shared my writing with anyone. When I hit my mid-fifties, I realized I love to write. Why should I not share it? I quit worrying about whether people liked it and became more open to their input. I think my writing is improving "with age." And my age helps me let go of the fear of putting it out there.

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