In a perfect world, there would never be a need for a word such as ageism. Unfortunately, just like in the entertainment business, where veteran actors find leading roles not as plentiful as when they were younger, so it is with writers. When we reach the mid-season of our lives, we may find ourselves aged out of certain writing markets.
That doesn’t mean we have to accept this new status quo, and go quietly into our writing corner. We can and should continue to write what we love, and share it with a cross section of readers of all ages.
If we like writing for parenting magazines, we should continue even if our youngest is now a six footer who owns his own company. If we feel we have a message for the teens of today, even though the challenges they face are dissimilar from the issues our own teens faced growing up, you can still contribute to that market if you’re a good researcher. We can still write for teen magazines even though teens today face different challenges than our teens faced when they were that age.
Being 40+, 50, 60, 70 and beyond isn’t cause for a shrinking base of readers, nor paying writing markets. It just requires that we write and think edgier, and pitch and query editors and publishers with a fresher angle tinged with our wisdom and much honed skill, which is extra icing on the cake. And remember, you never need tell an editor your age. If your writing is good, they don’t care.
Here are some tips so that you won’t age out of paying writers markets:
1. Become more knowledgeable of the younger market niche of the publications you’d like to write for (whether they are middle schoolers, teens, college students, young parents or young, single and dating men or women) so that your writing will be relevant. Research and make a spreadsheet of what is trending in each age group. What products are they buying? What music are they listening to? What is their fashion sense? Who are the celebrities they are talking about? What foods are they eating, television shows are they watching, and what are their political views?
2. Visit venues where the younger generation congregates, such as the mall, a park or, for twenty-something’s, a hip urban coffee house, and inconspicuously eavesdrop, and take mental notes of their dialogue and techno talk. Also, take note of the nonverbal communications to add more authenticity to your writing, especially if you are writing a YA fiction story for a paying market such as Cicada Magazine.
3. Be inclusive in your writing. Try writing about nontraditional roles or families, female crime fighters in this world and the ether world , and show the melting pot in our society, which includes others who are LGBTQIA, those of color, and those with disabilities.
4. Stay social media relevant. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest are very popular among younger folks. Build connections through networking groups to find valuable resources, and to stay current in a digital marketing world.
5. Remain broadminded when you write for a younger readership, especially teens or new parents. No one wants to be judged or criticized even when their views are dissimilar from the ones you, as a mature writer, may have. You might not have believed in co-sleeping with your children when you were a parent but writing an article on the advantages of co-sleeping may get you published in Parent’s Magazine or another paying parenting magazine or blog. You can also seek a professional or clinical opinion to add more depth to an article you are writing.
6. Finally, stay young at heart as a person and you’ll remain young at heart as a writer.
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Jeanine DeHoney is a freelance writer and former early childhood teacher and Family Services coordinator. As a freelance writer her work has been published in several magazines, blogs, and anthologies including Essence, Wow: Women on Writing-The Muffin’s Friday Speak Out, Mused Bella Online, My Brown Baby, Mothering.com, Skipping Stones Multicultural Magazine, The Children’s Ark, Devozine, The Write Place At The Write Time, Mutha Magazine, Literary Mama, Booklocker, Funds For Writers, Artist Unleashed, Jerry Jazz Magazine, ScaryMommy.co, Parent Co., Brain Child Magazine, Today’s Caretaker Magazine, and Rigorous Magazine. She is an essayist in “Chicken Soup For The African American Woman’s Soul,” “Here In The Middle; Stories of Love, Loss, and Connection From The Ones Sandwiched In Between,” “Theories of HER; an experimental anthology,” and upcoming in Chicken Soup For The Soul; The Power Of Yes being published in August 2018.