Writing on writing

Inspiration for oldies

Maybe it’s the Olympics. All that effort: the struggle, the heartbreak of failure, the joy of success. It reminds me that there’s nothing like the feeling you get when you test your limits, push yourself further than you thought you could ever go. I’ve been inspired lately to step up my ambitions.

I stumbled across Damn Good Advice (for people with talent) in a bookshop the other day. It has advice for creatives by George Lois, the Ad man who supposedly inspired the Don Draper character in Mad Men (he hates the comparison).

Lois encourages you to strive for excellence in everything you do and to be bold. It was a timely read. I’ve been working on one of my screenplay ideas and struggling a little. It’s an ambitious project and the work involved is very different from the work I do for money. It’s made me reflect on what work is.

When I started writing again a few months after my 40th birthday, I set myself the goal of being published or produced by my 50th birthday. Some days that seems an impossible dream, so this tip from George really inspired me. I hope it inspires you!

Tip #102. If you’re reading this approaching 50 years of age, remember that oak trees do not produce acorns until they are 50 years old.

Charles Darwin was 50 when he wrote On the Origin of Species.

At 52, Ray Kroc, a milkshake machine salesman, turned McDonald’s from a small chain of restaurants into a humongous fast food empire.

Colonel Sanders was in his 60s when he started KFC.

Dr Ruth Westheimer became famous for her straight talk about sex when she was 52.

Louise Nevelson was in her 50s when she sold her first sculpture.

A New York public school teacher, Frank McCourt, at 66 wrote Angela’s Ashes and a year later won a Pulitzer Prize.

Julia Child was just shy of 50 when she wrote her first cookbook.

A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada founded the Hare Krishna movement when he was 69, with $7 to his name.*

Hark the words of Samuel Beckett, reflecting on his own career when he intoned, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

*I do quite like the idea of starting my own religion. If the writing doesn’t work out, that could be plan B.


3 thoughts on “Inspiration for oldies

  1. I don’t think the Olympics have had quite the same effect on me … I’m just relieved my efforts (and subsequent failure) aren’t on internationally public display. But perhaps Aus’s swimmers are actually “failing better” than I am!


    1. Huh! I’ve always been steadfast in my sporting allegiances – it took me a few years to start following Aus once we moved here. But once I’m in, I’m in. Failure and location rarely deter me. (Trading Bradshaw for Fevola after badly treating Aker, though … that’s been the only kiss of death so far.)


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