Should you start to write, paint or learn a musical instrument as you get older? It is so easy to think that once you reach a certain age it is not worth bothering. Literary agents are only interesting in young rising talent. Apart from the Rolling Stones and all those 80s bands that have reformed, it is rare to see an older person in a rock band.
It is also easier to keep saying “I wish I had done it when I was younger” than it is to actually get on and do something now.
Yes, it is worth starting
I remember hearing a fabulous conversation about someone who had always wanted to play the piano, and was finding excuses not to bother because they had just turned fifty. Their worry was that they would be very old by the time they were really proficient as a piano player. The response from the person they were chatting with was, “Yes, that’s true. But you’ll be the same age if you don’t do it.”
Creativity isn’t about being famous or ‘making it’ or earning a living from your creations. Creativity is about the pure joy of creating.
You don’t have to be good
Don’t worry about a whether what you produce is any good. Just start doing something. Take action.
Sit down and write about your day today, or an episode of your life or what you are feeling right now. Book a piano lesson and arrange to borrow that keyboard from your friend who never uses it. Buy a sketch book, or even better, grab any paper you can find in your house, look out the window and draw what you see.
Any of these things you can do right now, just as you are, with no expectation of fame or fortune. And it doesn’t matter how old you are. There is no age limit to starting a creative pursuit. In fact, a life of continual learning is good for the brain and is likely to give you a more youthful outlook. A mind that is still very much alive as you get older may give you better physical health too.
What are the next steps?
Once you have taken the initial steps to start your creative activity give some thought to how you can learn more about it. Is there an evening class you can attend? Can you find a weekend workshop that will give you some pointers on how to proceed? Do you need a teacher?
The great thing about any of the above suggestions is that they will help give you some accountability. This will lead to you to taking regular creative action. The best thing you can do to get better at your art and to keep enjoying it is to do it as often as you can. You don’t need lots of time but you do need to utilise the little chunks of spare time that you do have.
Don’t worry if your work is crap
Your initial efforts will probably not yield masterpieces. You might be embarrassed about what you produce. When this happens some people decide that they will never be any good and then they give up. However, the only way that you are going to get any better is to produce lots of crap work. Eventually you will improve. Each piece that you produce will tell you the next thing that you need to learn.
For more encouragement on this please read a blog that I wrote a few months ago – Why you should aim to make lots of crap art
Express your truth
I believe that creativity is a way of expressing your truth. You don’t have to be good at anything to do that (though you will get better the more you do it). You don’t have to be recognised by others and you don’t need to be paid to do it.
You just have to get on and do it. Then you are expressing and honouring your truth. You can do that at any age.
Now I’d love to hear from you
What are your experiences of starting a creative pursuit later in life? What were the benefits? What were the challenges? Leave a comment below.
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Every month I also share the ups and downs of my own creative journey – but only email subscribers get that insider view.