WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW…NOW, JUST WHAT IS THAT? By Kimberly Ripley

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“I’m too old to start something new.”

“I can’t go back to college now.”

“How can I convince an editor that even though I have no published clips, I DO know how to write?”

Stop looking at age as a deterrent! In fact, you should regard your more “mature” years as a gift—especially with regard to freelance writing.

The three statements above are examples of typical fears I’ve watched new writers encounter. There was a time when these thoughts crossed my own mind. Some folks seem to believe that they must be 21 in order to start a new career. And many of them assume that, to become a successful freelance writer, they must go back to school and take a few college courses.

Let’s get a couple of things clear. You can become a successful freelance writer if you’re 21. However, in my humble opinion, you’ve got a much better shot at it if you’re 38 or 47 or 64!

Why? The answer is so simple! Exactly how much life has the typical 21–year old experienced? Now what about that 38–year old? I mean in no way to berate the college years or social years a young person has endured and enjoyed. I simply mean to point out that life—and the many years of living it—add up to a great deal in the success of a freelance writer.

Many of you have undoubtedly published a few articles or short stories. And I know for a fact that some of you have published books. So you have a passion and an ability to write. Starting your career a little later in life has so many advantages!

You have lived and experienced things that kids just out of college cannot fathom. And you’ve lived through a range of emotions and trials that kids that age merely read about in books and magazines. So get the notion out of your head that you’re at a disadvantage if you’re not 21, svelte, and highly fashionable!

Now, about those college courses: I am a strong advocate of ANY form of continuing education. However, as a mother of five, a wife, and a caretaker of an 83–year old mother–in–law, I know how hard it can be to drive over to the community college three nights a week and take a class in Creative Writing.

This isn’t necessary! By all means, if you have the time and the resources, and you feel you’d do yourself a service by brushing up on a grammar or composition class, then go for it! But don’t assume, because you can’t, that you are at another disadvantage. There are so many ways to further your education, to brush up on needed skills, and to promote and enhance your career as a freelance writer.

Draw on your years in the work force—whether it’s been in the food preparation industry or a retail outlet. You’ve certainly met some interesting people and learned a few unusual things. These can all be fodder for your writing.

I spend a lot of time as a school volunteer. I visit elderly shut–ins from our church. My husband owns his own business. I have a daughter in college who is taking some writing courses. My middle son just got his license.

These are typical circumstances in the life of a 40–something mom—me! Now watch what I do with this list to generate article and story ideas:

School volunteers: Beyond Class Parties and Field Trips: What You Can Do in Your Child’s Classroom Not Crazy About the Classroom? Five Ways to Volunteer at School Without Stepping Foot into One

Elderly shut–ins from church:
Are You Living in the Sandwich Generation?
Who Watches Grandma While You Go to Work?
The Joy You Spread in An Hour a Week

Business Owner:
Top Ten Excuses for Why the Check Bounced: As Told to a Business Owner Help Wanted: Why Jobs Are Hard to Fill

Daughter in College:
Give Them Wings to Fly: You’ve Raised Them, Now Let Them Learn the Lessons Sending the Perfect College Care Package Campus Safety: How Safe is Your Child’s College Campus?

Son with New License:
Road Rage and Teenagers: Is There Cause for Concern? Is Your Teen Ready to Drive? Ten Safety Tips for Teens

You get the point. Make a list of the many attributes your life has afforded you. They needn’t be spectacular. In fact, part of achieving success as a freelance writer entails finding fascination in the simplest of things.

No, age is most certainly NOT a deterrent. Take pride in your age. Take pride in the life you’ve lived. Turn your experiences into income as a successful freelance writer!

Kimberly Ripley is an award–winning freelance writer and author of four books. She lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with her husband and five children…all inspirations for her writing.