I envy the younger writer.
True, I’ve been writing in one genre or another for more than 30 years, and all that experience helps, at least in terms of confidence, but when I read published work by younger writers I’m often impressed by their unbridled imaginations, and the creative freedom they exhibit.
I mention this because I’ve been teaching classes in fiction for an arts organization here in Michigan for a while. Most of my students are middle-aged or older. At our last class we got into a discussion about how writers can get their characters to step outside their comfort zones in order to develop more interesting story climaxes and resolutions.
It struck me that perhaps one of the reasons it’s more difficult for people who turn to writing when they’re older to let their imaginations run free is simply because they are older and have lived under various sets of rules for most of their lives. At every job they’ve held, there have been regulations, and to disregard them carries consequences. We learn to play it safe.
Staying safe in essence becomes both a learned behavior and a survival technique. Unfortunately I believe this carries over when people test their creativity, and in writing, wearing such a literary straightjacket doesn’t help get one published.
I believe it’s a burden we older writers must unload if we’re to be successful. Personally, I’ve spent much of the last six years—during which I’ve focused almost exclusively on fiction—trying to unlearn the creative restrictions imposed by the journalism, marketing and other traditional writing positions I’ve held. It’s been a long process, but I do believe I’m making progress. My stories are far more imaginative, and I’m becoming fairly regular at being published.
But I’ve become more eccentric as a result of working hard to write creatively. This all perplexes my wife, who would prefer I remain the straight-laced guy she married. Sorry dear, but it’s a package deal.
BTW: Now that I’ve admitted I’m older, take a crack at how old. As Book Review Editor for Los Angeles Review, I receive lots of books. First person to guess correctly, I’ll send you one.
 Although some of those genres, like political speechwriting, don’t count.
 Especially in these days of steampunk teenage vampires.
 Regularity, when you’re older, becomes increasingly important.