From Teen Writer to Adult Writer: A Perspective
Daniel Beals, Guest Contributor
Life is full of changes. We’re always moving forward, looking back. Wishing things were different, or loving how it is. But we all know that it will never stay the same. Something will change in just a moment.
And that’s just how it is.
One of those big changes happens around 17 to 21 years of age—the transition from teen to adult. For some it might start a little sooner, and I have known a few for whom this transition didn’t finish until later. And that’s okay.
I’m not going to tell you what you should do during this transition, or how to think about it after it happens. What I want to share is how it changed me.
I started seriously writing at 15 years old. And it was easy. Especially finding time. I had time. Lots of time. Once chores and school were done, I was free to read a book…or write one.
So I churned out a lot of rough drafts, short stories, and a whole ton of world development on several story worlds over the three years before I graduated high school.
But then, 18. Graduation. And a new, full-time job. Jobs, actually. I had one part- time corporate job, and filled in the rest of my available work time with self-employment opportunities.
Out of Time
As I am sure you can guess, and have perhaps experienced for yourself, my writing time decreased a lot. And I didn’t like it. It resulted in losing connections with some writing friends, too. I just didn’t have much time to talk to them because I was working more often than not. Some of these friendships, I have never been able to get completely back.
The end result was that I stopped writing for about a year.
The truth of it is that I was not able to manage my time very well, and when I was at home, about all I wanted to do was sleep. The job was stressful, and I had never had such major responsibility before.
I ended up leaving the corporate job, and was strictly self-employed (lawn jobs—the good old fallback for a lot of us guys out there) for the next year.
Then something happened that drove me back into the corporate world. I decided to get married.
During my time of self-employment, however, I had gotten back to writing, and I learned to schedule my time much better.
This time, starting work with a different company, now as a full-time employee, I was able to divide up my home time between rest, play, and hobbies, like writing, with a fair amount of equality.
What I’ve Learned
Now, lest this simply sound like a long drawn-out bio, I want to get into what I learned from all this.
First, that it’s okay not to write.
Seriously. It is. If you have to stop writing for a while, or even if you are considering stopping for an unknown period of time, that is okay. There was a moment where I wondered if I would ever write again. And the only time I found peace about that was when I decided that if I never typed or wrote out another page of prose, it was fine. And I would be fine. And the world wouldn’t end. My little world, that is.
I am married, and have a daughter who is just over 6 months old. I don’t have a lot of easily accessible free time to do whatever I want, whether that be read a book, watch a movie, play a game, or write. Doesn’t matter what I want to do. It’s hard to find time to do it. But I feel good when I write half a page.
So don’t let not having time bother you, or not being able to get much done in the little time you have. Rejoice in the little things. Like a paragraph, or a sentence.
Second, I have responsibilities that supersede my writing hobby.
Yes, it’s a hobby. I still dream of doing it full time. But I don’t rely on that dream as an excuse for not working and doing other things. There are things that must be done before writing. And there are other hobbies that are easier and sometimes more relaxing or enjoyable to do. So sometimes writing is on the back burner for a while, as it waits for me to finish changing a diaper, or do the dishes, or finish up at work.
It’s okay if it takes a while to write something, because you have real life to live. It took me several years to stop feeling guilty about having a “real” life, and not getting another novel written—especially when talking to one of my friends who had chugged out three or four novels in that time.
Third, and I personally think this is the most amazing thing I have ever gained, is understanding.
As an adult who has had a lot of time in the workforce, and now as a husband and new dad, I have a view of things that I have never had before. I am by no means an expert now on matters of love and relationships, but I can write a fictional romance better now. I can make a character seem more real than I could before, because now I personally understand the balancing of life. Fun, work, family, friends.
If you take anything from this, I hope it is that it’s okay to live life. Even if that life means not having time to write for a while. So live life to its fullest.
Daniel is a husband and father living in Western Oklahoma. He is self- employed, and enjoys using his free time to write, read, and game. More than anything, he likes to play with his daughter, Abigail, and spend time with her–and his wife, Laura, who also writes. He is looking forward to what God has in store for the road of life ahead of him and his family.
Great post, Daniel! I really appreciate the part about it being /okay/ not to write. Because I haven’t written–fiction, that is–in over a year, and there have been times when I’ve felt bad about it. Like, was I losing my ability to tell stories or something? Because novels were my first love, and I still dream of publishing one someday. But being an adult has changed how and when I write, and I’ve certainly struggled with the transition.
I used to hope I’d be published by 20 (at the latest), but the truth is, I’m glad it didn’t happen. Not only did my writing suck a lot more than it does now, I was not prepared for the harder side of being an author, which is marketing and networking, etc. There’s a lot more that comes with being a writer than just writing. And the understanding you gain from being an adult just enhances your voice. It doesn’t cause you to get boring, as I was afraid it might.
So yeah, that turned into a ramble, but I seriously appreciate this post. Great job! It’s been very encouraging.
Thank you so much for this, Daniel 🙂 Needed it.