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Thursday, January 20, 2011

'Making It' When You're Younger vs. 'Making It' When You're Older

Does anyone doubt that succeeding at almost anything is better if you do so when you're younger (say, between eighteen and thirty)? Doing so in pop music, sports, even acting, seems relatively easy for those professions compared to doing so as a writer. How many writers make it when they are teenagers? I can think of only one: Arthur Rimbaud, who quit writing poetry around age eighteen.

Why is making it in music, sports, even acting, relatively easy for the younger person?

Musical ability is innate. If you have talent, it usually manifests early in life. I do not think musical talent develops much with age. If you are not born with it, you will never get it.

Sports is based heavily on physical ability, and most of us peak in our late teens to very early thirties. Then we're done. Most professional athletes 'retire' in their thirties.

Acting is a talent that can be mastered, I think. It can grow with practice. One can make it at any almost any age. But making it in acting has a lot of intagibles. It helps greatly to be beautiful or handsome. Youth and beauty are a powerful combination. For most people, like athletes, actors tend to peak at an early age. Many actors in their thirties are beginning to decline. But there are many people trying to make it in acting, so what allows a few to make it and most others to not? Is it connections? No doubt they help. Talent certainly has to be a part of it, too. It's a mix of benefits that helps a person make it in acting. Sometimes it's just plain dumb luck.

Why is making it as a writer at a young age so difficult? What are the obstacles? The first thought that comes to mind is life experience. What do older people know that younger ones do not? It's very difficult to be precise, but I think part of it is balance. Older people have seen the good and the bad within everything. Younger people are still trying to figure out the good from the bad; they see the good and the bad in very definite ways. Something is good or bad, period. Older people see that all things are both good and bad; there is a downside and an upside to everything. It takes time to realize it.
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