Just imagine if Laura Ingalls Wilder had decided it was too late to write!
Or what about Bram Stoker, Henry Miller, or Alex Haley?
In a culture that worships at the altar of youth, it’s not uncommon to hear someone as young as 20- or 30-something say they’re too old to pursue their dream. It shocks me every time, even as lists like Forbes’ 30 under 30 come out and add weight to their fears.
The literary landscape can be especially tough. Only a few years ago, Robert McCrum of the Guardian UK wrote a piece entitled, “Let’s face it, after 40 you’re past it”. I still can’t believe he had the nerve to say, “Old people, in general, don’t have literary careers.”
Yikes!! If you’re just starting your second act as a writer, that’s the last thing you need to hear. And, who’s “old” anyway?
It’s time to sweep away all of that negative noise that gets into your head and see the truth:
[bctt tweet=”There is no expiration date on your words.”]
How did they make it?
There’s so, so many websites for writers on the Internet! So, how did I choose who made it on the list?
The first criteria: the website is run by someone who has created a writing life in their second act. For around 70% of the sites, this is the case.
For the remainder, they had to meet one of two requirements. Either their writing inspires “second-acters”, or their content is so undeniably helpful that I couldn’t leave them out.
First up, the novelists …
During days of doubt, nothing can help more than to witness the success of others. Not only do they prove it can be done, but they show you how.
Here are some folks that have done it and continue to do it.
Claire Cook Her writing journey began in a minivan at the age of 45, and by the time she turned 50 she was walking the red carpet for the movie premiere of the adaptation of her second novel, Must Love Dogs.
Kathryn Craft The Art of Falling came out in January 2014, in Craft’s 58th year. Her next novel, The Far End of Happy, is due out in May 2015.
Sonja Yoerg With a B.S. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Biological Psychology, Yoerg started writing full time when her daughters left for college. At 54, her debut novel, House Broken, has just been released. (Jan 2015)
PJ Reece PJ recently admitted that he didn’t even think of becoming a writer until he was 42, but within 10 years of that decision he had a feature film on the screen and a novel under his belt.
Sally Wolfe After many years in a marketing career as a publicist and copywriter in Silicon Valley, Sally’s first novel, Consolations, was published in 2014. She was 65.
Wendy Clarke When the school where she taught shut its doors, Clarke celebrated “a milestone birthday” and started writing. Her book, Room in Your Heart, was published in Oct 2014.
E.L. James She began writing at the age of 46. Fifty Shades of Grey was her first published work, at the age of 48.
Writing Life Support
We all need it. It’s always easy to feel inspired as we leap out of the gate but, at some point, the inspiration wavers.
Trouble is, as writers, we often work alone.
How do we refill our cup — mind, body and soul? Where’s the inspiration refill?
Bloom Their tagline is: “Late” according to whom? The site profiles authors whose first books were published when they were 40 or older, “who bloomed in their own good time.”
Late Bloomer Debra Eve makes it plain: Creativity never gets old. She profiles not only writers but all creatives, and explores learning, longevity, and anti-retirement.
Mudpie Writing Marcy Mason MckKay just started her blog last year, but she is quickly becoming an inspirational force for writers fighting their demons.
Goins, Writer Jeff Goins’ daily blog is all about inspiration for the writer’s soul … and you’ll find it in his stories about his rapid road to success as well.
Roger Housden Since publishing his first book in 1990 (when he was 45), Housden has published 22 books in total. Upon signing up on his site, you will receive a weekly email, “Poems to Nourish the Soul”. Believe me, the poems really will nourish your soul … and we all need a little more of that.
MindBodyGreen A wellness site? Really?! Yes. Compare the ease and quality of your writing when you move, eat, and sleep properly, with the times when any one of those things is off. It’s all connected.
Growing Bolder Their tagline: Hope. Inspiration. Possibility. Their website description: “Real stories of ordinary people living extraordinary lives. It’s never too late to discover purpose & passion. Stop growing older; start Growing Bolder.” (My emphasis.)
Encore Here, you’ll find out about a variety of ‘encore careers’ people are choosing for their second act — it’s not only writers. To quote the founder, Marc Freeman: “We are a movement of millions of people who are using our passions, skills and decades of experience to make a difference in our communities and the world.”
Becoming Minimalist Again … really?!? Well, yes. Depending on your circumstances, you may have to be okay with less material bounty as you embark on your second act. Not only that, but the clarity that comes from finding simplicity will do wonders for your creativity.
Saying we’re writers is just the beginning of our learning journey.
Here are some places to go if you’re stuck and need to ruminate over some solid, well-informed suggestions.
Live Write Thrive C.S. Lakin provides great advice for the writing life, with a focus on craft and grammar. Yes, grammar. If you don’t like it, suck it up. As a writer, why wouldn’t you want to be skilled using the tools of your trade?
Write Nonfiction Now! Nina Amir’s site is unbelievably rich in material to guide you through the craft and process of writing nonfiction in today’s marketplace. Her book, How to Blog a Book, continues to be a bestseller two years after its publication.
Better Novel Project Christine Frazier is the ‘analyst extraordinaire’, building what she calls a “Master Outline” for the YA novel by deconstructing bestsellers (Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games). If you’re a plotter, you’ll feel your blood rush when you set your eyes on the outline.
Helping Writers Become Authors This is novelist K.M. Weiland’s site for helping her fellow writers. There are posts that inspire and explore the writing life, but she predominantly focuses on the craft of writing fiction.
Storyfix I credit Larry Brooks’ book, Story Engineering, as one of the key resources that helped me win NaNoWriMo last November, and you’ll find a lot of the same tips about structure and pacing on his blog.
Advanced Fiction Writing Randy Ingermanson’s book, The Snowflake Method, was my other indispensable guide while preparing for NaNoWriMo. He helped me find my way ‘in’. (I love that he got his Ph.D. in theoretical physics before becoming a writer.)
The Business of Publishing
You have your book ready to go. Now what? Again, the Internet has changed the playing field … in a BIG way.
Should you look for an agent? Self-publish? What is an author platform and how do you build one? What about editing? Design?
Here’s where you’ll find some answers.
Jane Friedman I’ve been getting Jane’s emails for over two years now and I have yet to resist reading a single one. She never fails to offer something fresh and helpful. If you want to know the ins and outs of what it takes to publish, traditionally or otherwise, her site is a good place to start.
The Creative Penn Joanna Penn has not only written a slew of books around creative entrepreneurship, she’s also a prolific novelist. Coming from a business/IT background, she has applied her business acumen to master a business model for authors. On her blog, she shares what she has learned, and what she continues to learn.
Your Writer Platform So much information about creating a platform, so little time! It makes me a little breathless. My advice: when you go there, be sure you’re ready to settle in for some awesome reading … and keep your note taking device handy.
The Book Designer When I first started following this blog, Joel Friedlander’s key focus was on the very important task of book design. Now his blog covers everything around the business of publishing. (He also continues to sell great book design templates.)
Digital Book World News, how-to’s, innovations, business issues, conferences … in short, anything that touches on digital publishing is covered here. If you’re thinking of self-publishing, which a lot of us are these days, you owe it to yourself to get educated.
Publishing Perspectives Much like Digital Book World, you’ll find business issues, how-to’s, etc… But, what makes this site different is that you’ll find news around traditional publishing as well. They also write from a more international perspective.
One way to carve out your writing life is to freelance. The Internet has created a huge field of options – some better, some worse – so if you’re a ‘newbie’, you really do need to learn from someone who’s been there.
Here are a couple of experts who want to help and support you.
Make A Living Writing Carol Tice is on a mission to help writers make a proper living. Notice I said ‘proper’. Not only does she provide expert advice as a seasoned freelance journalist, she warns you about what to avoid, and where you could get screwed out of what you’re worth.
Leaving Work Behind Tom Ewer prides himself on transparency. (His monthly income reports taught me a lot.) Not only does he offer instruction and resources around freelance blogging, he also shares his results – for the good or the bad. His lessons learned become yours too.
While most of the writing websites I mention above involve blogging in some way, the following sites offer a precision focus on the craft that warrants distinction.
And they offer some incredible resources to help you.
Copyblogger Sign up and you’ll find a plethora of resources to help you with your blogging, all for free. These people know what they’re talking about and they generously share it with you. For me, a marketing neophyte, their advice is indispensable.
Boost Blog Traffic I have to admit a bias, right from the start. I’m a huge fan of Jon Morrow. He’s just that good. This is his blog. (And this is where you’ll find his free ebook about Headlines, to which I referred in a previous post.)
Problogger If you haven’t found enough information yet, or even if you have, here’s another fantastic resource for bloggers. A feature I enjoy is their Jobs board; it’s good to browse around and get a sense of the potential in this market … if that’s where you choose to go.
A little bit of everything
There are some websites that cover such a wide range, I don’t feel comfortable putting them in one category.
Write To Done No list of writing websites would be complete without this one. You’ll find inspirational tips, publishing how-to’s, freelancing advice, grammar pointers, platform suggestions, blogging help … In short, it touches upon every area you may be considering on your writing journey.
Writer Unboxed If you’re looking for in depth reflection on craft, process, and the writing life, then you’ll get it here. These are not your average blog posts.
The Write Life I’ve been following this blog since its inception. It offers a broad spectrum of articles on business, craft, and process, and touches on genres ranging from travel to technical writing. Personally, I enjoy the posts on writing retreats … sometimes, you need to dream.
The Write Practice I struggled with where to put this one. The site’s intention is to encourage practice, and we all need that! And then there’s the posts on craft and the writing life. In short, you’ll find a bit of everything.
Women Writers, Women’s Books I hesitated to include this one because, well, it’s specifically for women … or is it? If you’re a man reading this right now, click the link now and try it. Don’t be shy – what works for one half of the human species will work for the other half. You’ll find a lot of meaty, thought-provoking content about the writing life, publishing, marketing, and craft.
There’s so much more!
I’ve barely scratched the surface. I could’ve kept going.
But isn’t that great!! There are that many of us out there, proving people like Robert McCrum wrong.
And the list will just keep growing, because more and more of us are ready to prove it’s not too late!
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