Ben Affleck and Herbert Kretzmer show the way for ‘second acts’

The Hollywood actor-turned-director Ben Affleck recently spoke about being given a “second act” after he won the Best Director award at the Baftas for his film Argo. Similarly, Les Miserables lyricist Herbert Kretzmer told The Guardian he “was able to give up my day job at 61” after it became clear that the show had a fairly certain future.

My spirits were lifted by both of these comments as I had just binned another press release about a competition for new writers – with yet another age limit on it – only under-30s were eligible.

These types of competitions have often infuriated me. New writers can be of any age. In fact, I’d say older writers have more about them. They have more to say. More experience to draw on. I mean do I really want to read about another twentysomething RomCom? No offence to any struggling twentysomething writers, particularly if they are on their latest RomCom.

Man on beach.

Second act: gives you time to start writing that novel.

I just want more new writing competitions to be open to “second actors”. After all, how can you afford to be a struggling writer unless you have already struggled in another career? Now have a pension, independent income (aka spouse) or a job that you can fit your writing around?

What do you think? Are you on your second act? Do age restrictions on writing competitions annoy you too? I’d love to hear your views. 

February 21, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , . Comedy writing, Fiction, Publishing, Writing.


  1. terrytrekker replied:

    I like your comment on 2nd act. I am new, and find that I like writing, but I find it hard to put in words most times. I hope your blog can inspire me.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to reading about your travels.

  2. The Laughing Housewife replied:

    I have been writing all my life but only taking it seriously in the last few years i.e. trying to get published. I, too, am infuriated by age limits.

    On the other hand, young talent can be overlooked by sheer numbers, so maybe it’s not a bad thing. What they need is comps etc for the upper age limit, to balance things out.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      I like that idea – competitions for 40-somethings only. And 50-somethings etc. A it like running races.

  3. Carrie Rubin replied:

    In my experience, a lot of books I read were written by authors who had other ‘lives’ before their writing ones. I think it would be the unique author who would start out writing for their career and become instantly successful. I’m sure it happens, but I think the opposite occurs much more often. And I’m not just saying that because I’m old. 😉

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      I like it! They were probably alcoholics or drug addicts too. Now rehabilitated, of course.

  4. colonialist replied:

    Would it seem like sour grapes if I commented that the under-30s are dumbing down the writing level, and that they are accustoming the reading public to that level?
    I know my own writing at that age was pretty puerile. I should resurrect it. It would probably be a roaring success, now.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      Ha! I like the idea of resurrecting the rubbish, I mean best-seller, you wrote at 30!

  5. Judith replied:

    It is same thing in the visual arts. All support seems to be given to so called immerging artists, which usually means under 30. I have kept my artistic practice going for 30 years juggling it with a day job. I really feel that I am deserving of being eligible for something!

  6. Pauline Guerin replied:

    YES YES YES, in fact anything with an age restriction annoys me. I’ve always, even as a youngster, believed that age should be no barrier to anything. If the mind is willing and the body able …ish, then why not.

    it’s about time that there were more things out there, not just competitions, but all sorts, for the older person. I’m 51 and definitely not past it yet I’ll have everyone know!

  7. jmmcdowell replied:

    Amen! Yes to second acts for writers, musicians, artists,…. you name it! Some famous authors, like John Updike, weren’t published until they were 50 or older. Creativity doesn’t end at 30!

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