No living organism can avoid the ageing process. Nor can it sidestep the eventual consequent deteriorations. The process may vary between individuals but at some stage it will have an impact. This article will centre upon the human condition, with particular focus on authors.
General Ageing Limitations
Managing Ageing Limitations
Impact of ageing on Authors
General Ageing Limitations
Most people will experience the following as they age:
- Increasing health issues.
- Weakening bodily functions.
- Decreasing physical strength.
- Slowing mental agility.
Other possibilities are:
- Shortening attention span.
- Memory loss.
- Impaired judgment.
- Difficulty learning new skills.
It should however be born in mind each person is different. The timing of the process varies from person to person. There are those who at the age of eighty retain the faculties they had at thirty while others at sixty cannot keep up with a ninety year old.
There are also the challenges of social attitude. Regrettably, some consider elder people inconsequential. Worse still is those who treat an older person as mentally deficient. Hopefully such attitudes are not widely prevalent though there are signs of it becoming an increasing problem. There is certainly evidence of many not valuing older relatives, speedily moving them to a care facility because they cannot be bothered. Whatever happened to family love, loyalty and care?
Managing Ageing Limitations
Everyone, including authors, need to discover ways to live with and manage the inevitable issues age brings.
With health, physical deterioration, and mental changes it is a matter of understanding what the changes and limitations are and finding ways to work with or round them. Consulting a doctor is obviously a first step for some issues. Medication, physiotherapy, or counselling may provide appropriate resolution or help.
When it comes to mental issues it may help to engage in puzzles or the like, participate in discussion forums, or seek a psychologists assistance. An important aspect with mentality is not to allow fear to control. Everyone, if they are honest, fears decreasing mental ability. However, in the majority of instances it can be managed.
These are just a few quick thoughts. Far more insight may be gained from national health sites, research, and consultation with experts.
Impact of Ageing on Authors
Unless outstandingly successful, age may result in some authors becoming discouraged. Each book demands considerable input of energy and time, to then see it not sale widely is disappointing. In earlier years authors are robust enough to weather the disappointment however, age often leads to a reduced ability to fight negatives. That does not mean it cannot be managed and turned round.
Some may also feel they have run out of steam and have nothing further to contribute. NOT TRUE as will be seen in a moment.
It is not practicable to try and deal with all issues within one article. The following will therefore concentrate upon the aspects of discouragement, author relevance, and energy.
Due to the nature of authoring and the inundated modern book market, discouragement at some stage is almost inevitable. This is especially true for older authors with who it can become a primary factor. A couple of dictionary definitions may help put the issue into context.
‘the state of having lost your confidence or enthusiasm for something.’ (Cambridge Dictionary)
‘something that makes you unwilling to do something because your are afraid of the consequences.’ (Collins Dictionary)
After years of, often exhausting, hard work and not seeing a great uptake, disappointment leading to a heavy sense of discouragement is inevitable. As the dictionary definitions indicate this may lead to the author giving up or at least feeling there is no point in continuing, becoming apathetic.
Authors: Do not accept this! It is not inevitable. Discouragement and disappointment can be overcome.
Discouragement does not have to be accepted. It can be overcome. There are various suggestions upon how this may be achieved:
- First, as with many situations, the author needs to be honest with themselves. They need to identify what it is they are feeling or fear. Without this understanding it will be hard to move on.
- Frequently, when in the midst of discouragement and disappointment, it is easy to see the situation as worse than it is. The author should look back and remember when matters appeared bad but subsequently improved. Tomorrow is often better.
- While looking at current negatives, authors may forget what they already have. For example, books, experience, knowledge, abilities (often gained during the process of writing). They should be grateful for these and look at how to freshly leaver them for the current market. Sometimes it is simply a matter of changing a book’s cover and/or rewriting the description/blurb.
- Often there is peer pressure to only recognise success as measured by sales. Especially true in these days of social media. Such an attitude can distort true success. A product’s quality is a far better gage of achievement. This is usually evidenced by positive reviews, even if there are only a handful.
- Concentrating on the work itself rather than potential rewards usually helps an author reassess their position.
- Where focusing upon what already exists is not helping, investing in a new project may brake the dilemma. As with so called writer’s block, starting something new usually gets the brain and creative juices flowing again.
Some suggest making a list of those things seen as negatives and failures along with existing abilities and resources. Throughout, the author should be looking for ways to utilise what already exists and for new opportunities. Their ultimate aim is to identify ways to move forward.
With age many, including authors, may come to feel they no longer have anything to contribute to their modern society. That what they have belong to the past, to their generation, to previous social attitudes and protocols. That is never true, everyone has something to contribute whether it be knowledge, experience, resource, or products.
Books are never out of date or irrelevant. Nor do they ever cease to exist even if withdrawn from sale. Fiction retains its entertainment value throughout time. In reflecting life and events many also add elements of interest and learning for readers. Non-fiction, a category that covers a wide range, naturally provides information that mostly remains relevant. Even those that deal with past technologies deserve their place on bookshelves. Researches in particular will wish to know about past developments.
Readers have varied reasons for reading, as varied as people are themselves. Some simply desire a means of escaping the world for a short while. Others are seeking information to help with some current research, interest, problem, or event. The list goes on. Despite the internet advent books continue to be a major source of reliable information.
A further article The Continuing Relevance of Authors that provides more detail and insight will be published next. (A link will be provided when it is published.)
The ageing process, especially if accompanied by physical or mental limitations, can be tiring. With passing years some may feel they have run out of steam. That they no longer possess the energy to continue with previous tasks. That they no longer have anything to contribute. Though these are understandable responses they are not ones to embrace.
Everyone, no matter their age, has something to contribute. Authors do not really run out of ideas or topics to write about. As with so called writer’s block such a feeling is a temporary blip that may be overcome. Through general observation, the news, experiences, and imagination, there are always a plethora of possibilities. Most stories and accounts have their roots in such. It is no different in later life. An authors creativity never ceases. It is part of them. They simply need to let it flow. The discipline of starting on something new, or revisiting previous drafts or completed works, will unusually, inevitably in most cases, kickstart the writing process again.
It would be foolish to say age does not impact energy to some degree. Inevitably, some tasks will take longer to accomplish. This however, does not mean people have to give up. Ways to manage the restraint can and should be embraced.
No one, including authors, can avoid ageing. It is a natural progression of life. However, it is not necessary to give in to the limitations and difficulties it brings. Authors never truly run out of steam, ideas, or creativity. Should any feel they have it is usually simply a matter of refocusing or finding ways to work with or round the limitation encountered. No matter their age, they have a lot to give.
The Continuing Relevance of Authors (Link will be provided when the article has been published.)
One thought on “The Ageing Author”
Once again, you have touched on a subject, with sensitivity, that affects a lot of us. As I find my physical aspects diminishing, mainly to do with getting tired more easily, I am so happy to be an author! I can sit somewhere comfortably and write. I only used my energy to stop and feed myself or to get another cup of tea!
I do hope other writers don’t become discouraged because writing is good for the soul. ôô