Is there an age when people are deemed “old enough” to be a writer? Or “too old” to think about writing and selling a book?
Many schools have programs where children are encouraged to write stories, then the adults put them into a book form. That’s a great program, but we don’t consider those books in the same way we think of books found in book stores. Those “kids” aren’t “real” writers.
But when is a young person old enough to be a “real” writer? I’m currently communicating with a 10th grader who is working on a novel. Her questions and ideas are exactly the same as I hear from older writers.
Eragon was written by Christopher Paolini when he was a teenager. (About the same age as the girl I’m hearing from.) Walter Farley started writing The Black Stallion when he was in high school. Kat Zhang soldher trilogy, The Hybrid Chronicles, when she was 19.
There’s a blog titled “Disgustingly Talented Teen Authors” https://paperfury.com/disgustingly-talented-teen-authors/ where you can see quite a large group of authors (male and female) who had their first books published while they were teenagers.
What about writers younger than their teens? Wikipedia has a list of children writers. Books written by children or teenagers An eight-year-old was the youngest author I saw on the list, but who knows, we have children talking and reading by the age of three. There’s no telling when one of those children might decide to write a book (and have it published) by the age of six.
Okay, so how old is too old?
Some consider over forty as old, and I found several lists mentioning writers who didn’t start until after the age of forty. The next big jump seemed to be writers who started in their sixties. (Often after retirement.) The article, “Writers Who Started Late” http://mentalfloss.com/article/63112/11-writers-who-started-late has a list of well-known and some not-so-well-known writers. Included on the list was Millard Kaufman. Although Kaufman became a screenwriter in his thirties (he was a co-creator of Mr. Magoo), he didn’t have his first novel, Bowl of Cherries, published until he was ninety years old.
The nice thing about being a writer is there doesn’t seem to be any mandatory retirement date. Romance novelist Ida Pollack was still writing and being published when she died at age 105. Dame Barbara Cartland, author of over 565 published romances,was still writing and being published in her 90s. There’s one site that lists writers who are over 80. https://bookriot.com/2013/03/15/8-writers-over-80/ The list was published in 2013, and since then some of those writers have passed on, but it shows reaching the age of 80 didn’t stop them.
So how old is too old? I guess the answer is when the ideas stop coming or the writer is unable to get the words into a readable form.