As a girl, I absolutely adored the Little House on the Prairie series. I would wake early in the morning, sit at the kitchen table, and devour each book. I was inspired by young Laura and her adventures on the prairie. What I could have never known then is what an inspiration Wilder the author would be for me as an adult.
Wilder didn’t publish her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, until she was 64. During the earlier part of her life, she had taught and farmed and raised a family. She had written a bit on the side for small local publications in her fifties, but it wasn’t until her retirement investments were wiped out in the 1929 stock market crash that she wrote Little House in the Big Woods. The book was published in 1932, and it was the start of a writing career that has resulted in the beloved TV series, spin-off books, and millions of copies sold. Like Frank McCourt, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Angela’s Ashes was published when McCourt was 66, Wilder is proof that it’s never too late to write a book.
I’ve previously written about why I believe that it is not only possible but in some ways advantageous to start a writing career after the age of 50 (see “Is it Too Late to Start Writing After 50?”). I am all for older writers taking the plunge, but it is important to be aware that it will be a different process than starting a writing a career at 25 may have been.
Here are a few things that are particularly important in order to start writing after 50.