What happens to writers after they turn 25?

I would like to know.

No, really…what happens to authors/writers after they turn 25?

Do we turn into chopped liver?

Do our arms and legs fall off, our eyes and ears shrivel up and we can no longer write or be expected to entertain in a writerly sense?


I’m not 25 anymore, I’m rapidly approaching the business end of the 20’s and will soon be jettisoning into the 30’s with much enthusiasm. So why then, does the writers scene seem to embrace the under 25’s with such gusto?

To be fair, I don’t know about all the competitions, all the writing groups or all the websites, but of late I’ve been bombarded with a veritable landslide of ‘young writers’ information (I still consider myself to be young! They say age is only a number) and 90% or more of them are ONLY for people under the age of 25.

So, what do us ‘old sticks’ do if there is a vast array of things available to assist young writers in getting into the scene? But the ones targeted to our age bracket seem to be stealthily hidden away? Perhaps my eye sight is failing?

Do we try to ride the coat tails of the few competitions and awards that I’ve located that allow writers up to the age of 30? (read: That’s what I’ve been doing!) OR am I just looking in the wrong places for areas to tote my writing swag?

It got me to thinking about this whole age dealy.

Why are writers under the age of 25 so special? 

Should I get out my crayons? I'm joking, I don't have any... source: http://flic.kr/p/sDsUm

Should I get out my crayons? I’m joking, I don’t have any…
source: http://flic.kr/p/sDsUm

Does society as a whole feel the need to nurture the young? Give them opportunities that us older folk didn’t get as youngsters?

Does one take the stance that it is in fact ageist to put age restrictions on competitions? Or, could a member of the more worldly group consider it a slight to be bested by someone who’s barely out of their nappies (for the non-Aussie folk I am referring to diapers)? Of course I take this into a realm of stupidity with my scenarios, but the issue is still there. Why did this occur? Is it important?

I don’t really know why this distinction in ages became such a big thing, I don’t think that it’s all that important really, I think what is important is that we showcase talent, no matter the age, race, sex, colour, religion, beliefs or anything else of the person exhibiting it.

Am I alone in this thought?

My first reaction to this whole topic was to think, perhaps it’s unfair to compare the written word of an 18 year old to that of a 34 year old, given the 34 year old has 16 years more experience than the 18 year old, but really, writing is an expression of oneself and people do it in ways that are polar opposites of the spectrum. Also, add to this little thought, that perhaps the 18 year old has been solidly writing their craft since they were 12, encouraged by teachers, friends and family to write and express themselves, but the 34 year old is just coming into the realm of creative expression? Who has the advantage there? Should the 18 year old be thrust up against other experienced writers?

It’s a gnarly concept, one that I don’t think has a difinitive answer. I think no matter where you draw the line (since that seems to be the flavour of the moment to draw ‘age lines’ in the sand) there will be people who fall short or burst through the norms for those distinctions.

Scared face cat

Blank face, lost marbles look.
Photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/6dYmZN

Am I making sense anymore?! I must have lost my marbles around here somewhere…

So, when should the age distinction come into play? Should it ever?

This topic and train of thought has made my head hurt… silly ol’ chook I am.

Tell me, what are your thoughts on this topic? Have you ever been privvy to this type of situation outside of the writing scope? Do you think we should put age limits on competitions? If so, why?

12 thoughts on “What happens to writers after they turn 25?

  1. I actually think that in Australia it has to do with the way arts grants and awards are handled. There is separate funding for “youth” activities, which covers people aged 16-25 . So if you look outside the writing sphere, you’ll find there’s opportunities for all sorts of youth programs, incentives, and competitions. Unfortunately, if there was no age limit on these competitions, they wouldn’t fall into the “youth” category, funding would come from a different source (or in the case of private industry, funding would be subsidised by another source), and chances are the competition would compeltely cease to exist.

    Maybe it’s just because I’m a good ten years older than you (and got over the “what do you mean I’m not a youth??” thing a long time ago), but I’ve come across plenty of writing competitions that aren’t designated as being age limited. Maybe just keep looking. 🙂

    • You know Jo I didn’t think of it like that, but you make a very valid point.

      I think I would rather there be those comps for those of us still under 25, than not at all.

      I will keep my eyes peeled for more fantastic open comps 🙂

  2. An anecdote about the first time I felt old, just to make us all smile. 🙂

    I was about to climb the steps of the spire of Coventry Cathedral (UK) many years ago, and I stopped to let some people down. A child of about 10 at the front said to me: “It’s a £1 for grownups.”
    I was seventeen. Thanks kid.

    • Ah!! I had it the other way round when I was 17! I wanted to look older so I could go out and dance all night! 🙂

      Your anecdote did make me giggle though!

      Did you enjoy the cathedral?

  3. I think there should be no age group in writing competitions (unless of course we’re talking about under 18s). I honestly don’t know when 25 became the ‘new’ 18! 🙂

    • Who knows!! No age limit works for me 🙂

      Some of the comps I’ve seen have phenominal prizes and it just seems totally unfair to not allow older entrants. For example, the QANTAS SOYA (Spirit of Youth Award) that is currently running (and happily is open to those who are under the age of 30!) is offering $5000 cash, $5000 worth of flights to anywhere in the world to allow you to immerse yourself in the inspiration of a new location and a 12 month writing mentorship with Lisa Dempster CEO/Director of the Melbourne Writers Festival (last years mentor was Markus Zusak!! OMG!) What an awesome prize!

      It seems strange that this fantastic prize is only for those under the age of 30.

  4. When I was a writer under 25, I was dreadful. End of story. Not everyone is, but I was. I am glad to be a writer over thirty (thirty one in just a few months!) because I have gone through and come out the other side of all my immature self-indulgence (okay, that is a total lie, self-indulgent for life!) But really, I have focused as I’ve gotten older and I know far better what kind of writer (and person) I want to be.

    There are so many opportunities, comps, programs that I have only felt ready for recently, that I’ve been unable to pursue due to my age. But that’s cool. It just means I have to do it on my own, and luckily I’m a pretty resourceful chicky.

    • I’d like to think I was awesome when I was under the age of 25, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that I had the skill to become a better writer, but being young (particularly around the age of 16 or so) I was so melodramatic with my writing it was almost funny. I re-read over some of my older stuff and I can see what I wanted to say, but I said it in the only way a young me knew how… with drama!

      I agree, there are a lot of comps that I’ve seen recently that are only open to those under 25 that I think I’d have a good shot at, but alas I’m not able to put an entry in. I’ll just have to keep looking for something for us old peeps 🙂

  5. During my first period of unemployment I was turned down for a job at a famous clothing store for not fitting their youthful image: as I was in my 20s I am not sure if it counts as age discrimination or perceptual bias.

    I do not like positive discrimination of any kind. I can think of several reasons why people might see a benefit in younger writers being prioritised but prefer a world where we judge on merit.

    I do not object to special competitions for children as their brains are wired differently until puberty band and accept the administrative justice in setting a single age bracket rather than assessing each child individually. However after puberty, as you say, it is an issue of life experience and writing experience which are not age specific traits.

    • Comps for kids are completely different as you say, I think they are great! Anything that encourages them to write and/or read is worth it’s weight in gold if you ask me.

      I’d love for everything to be equal, everyone gets a go etc. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but we can keep wishing Dave.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  6. I think a writer under 25 will have completely different experiences from one older; not necessarily better or worse, just different. Not many mobile phones or tablets around when I was that age, for instance. (Now I feel old: I didn’t start writing until I was 36.)

    It’s a chance for the young’uns to catch us old’uns up. :-). I’m sure there are competitions for over 25s as well. Somewhere.

    “Old age is always 15 years older than you are.”

    • Hehe! I like your quote at the end! I think it is very true!

      I agree too, that a young persons experiences are different, but not better or worse than those of someone older.

      I have seen a couple of writing comps for older people, but they also don’t specify a younger age cut off (no, for writers aged 30 and above!) so they are open to all. Another interesting turn of events. 🙂

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