When We're Faced With the Temptation to Grow Up too Fast

*The new driver!*

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

My oldest son recently turned sixteen. And yes, he got his driver's license. The day his birthday dawned, he didn't care about presents, cake, or his special dinner. All he cared about was taking a trip over to the DMV and getting his license.

Of course, as usual, the wait at the DMV was out the door. Don't you just love the efficiency of the government? Every time I go to the post office the line is out the door too. But I digress . . .

Even though my son almost didn't get to blow out his birthday candles because he was busy sitting at the DMV, he DID eventually get his license. And we're all very happy for him (especially me because I don't have to drive him all over kingdom-come anymore!).

Strangely, when my freshmen daughters saw their brother pull out of the driveway all by himself to drive to work, they both had the same reaction. "I can't wait until I get to drive." I've heard them say it countless times over the past few weeks. And along with that I've also begun to hear my daughters say things like, "I can't wait until I'm older" or "I'm so glad I'm not in middle school anymore" or "I hate being so young."

They're comparing themselves with their older brother with all his privileges and responsibilities and
in the process they're starting to feel discontent with where they're at. Sure, we can empathize with them. We remember what it was like to be young and wish you could do more.

But as adults already having gone through high school, most of us would probably advise my twins to stop wishing away today and enjoy every moment because before they know it those years will be gone. Soon enough they'll have a job and family and LOTS of responsibility (sometimes even more than they wanted!).

There's always the temptation to want to grow up too fast, isn't there? (Except when you hit your 40's and you start wishing you could subtract a year at every birthday instead of adding one.)

That temptation to grow up too fast happens in the writing world too. And with the internet age, that temptation has only increased.

Writers everywhere are visible with everything they're doing. In fact, nowadays the writer's life is an open book (pun intended!). With our blogs, twitter, and facebook, we can share everything we're going through, how much we're writing per hour, every first draft we complete, contract news, and finals in contests.

And while such openness can be helpful, I find that most often it sets up an attitude of discontentment in those who are watching us.

On Twitter we see seasoned writers pumping out amazing word counts like 2000/hour and wonder what's wrong with us that we can only write 200 a day.

Or we hear about all the multiple novellas, novels, and eshorts an author writes in six months and feel inadequate for only barely managing one book a year.

We see friends publishing one book after another. Their rankings rise higher with each book. And we start to feel left behind.

Whatever the source of our discontentment, we're wise to heed the same advice that we would give my freshmen daughters: Stop wishing away today and enjoy every moment because before we know it those early years will be gone. Soon we'll reach maturity and have LOTS of responsibility (sometimes even more than we wanted!).

Sure it's only natural to look ahead, to dream, to plan. But we can't rush the process. We can't send out our books or publish them too soon. We have to wait for maturity and give ourselves time to grow in the writing journey.

It's okay to start with 200 words a day and one book a year. It's okay to take the time to read widely inside and out of your genre. It's okay to spend time practicing new techniques. And it's okay to wait to publish a book until you've had the chance to grow up as a writer.

In other words, we can't expect to be at the junior level when we're a freshman.

Sometimes we may cry out, "I can't wait!" But let's not miss out on the joy of the process that lies before us while we fret away our time coveting what's out of our reach.

What about you? Do you ever get tired of waiting? Do you compare yourself to others ahead of you and wish you were already there? How do YOU handle the impatience?


  1. I was odd because I knew a good thing when I had it and didn't really want to "grow up." I still wish I didn't have so much responsibilities sometimes. Enjoy each day and you will enjoy each year along the way.

    1. Hi Karen,

      Sometimes, especially as writers, we benefit from hanging onto that childlike curiosity! It's all too easy as adults to get so busy that we don't take the time to enjoy the simple things with more childlike fascination.

  2. Great topic! But I'd have to say that I am quite content where I am and have no desire to rush the process. I don't feel pressured to pursue publication as soon as possible and I am enjoying the journey so much I would not want to rush it. But one difference with me is that writing is a hobby for me. I have a full time job so I'm not dependent on my writing as a source of income. I can see that being a huge pressure if someone is dependent on the money and need to work harder, faster, produce more books, etc.

    1. I agree, Shelly. Some people jump into a writing career expecting it to be their source of income. And the reality in today's market is that it takes time to develop a steady income. In the mean time, the old advice not to quit our day jobs is perhaps even more true than it was in the past.

  3. I don't think this is simply a "New Writer" problem. I don't think it's about how old or young you are, either.

    Society nor World events help ease the pressure you rightly see in your daughters and in other writers, yourself included, right?

    Also, for me, and this will make me sound older than I am, but I don't care, mortality doesn't help this push-pull, either.

    Sometimes we learn the lesson Jody points out above TOO WELL, by which I mean there's so much at stake for the world at large, and for the individual, the family, the circle of friends we may or may not have, the notion of patience can feel depressing short term as much as hopeful in the long run.

    We're telling two different stories to the world today. Both that life is short and we can't pretend we have infinite tomorrows, while at the same time instilling the message that patience in all things is "God" and I meant this in a non-religious context.

    We talk about patience like there's endless time when we all know there isn't.

    Kids know that. Teens know that. ADults under 30, not married or have kids know that, da*** it!

    That notion of kids/teens think they're "Invincible" is WAY overrated. I'm not saying it's 100% untrue, but I don't think it's as true for my generation and the generations after me, as it once might have been, because kids aren't fools.

    AS much as some people think kids are coddled and rabid "Entitlement Freaks" who'd rather lie, cheat and steal than fail, that thinking totally and unjustly marginalizes people like me who aren't lazy deadbeats, but were tired of feeling like the only things that mattered in life were things I was not good at, and that what I was good at was viewed as non-essential luxury.

    What's "Luxury" about loving something
    Being good at something, regardless if it makes six figures or not, dang it!

    I'm not blind to the need to better education at ALL levels, but especially pre-k-12, but common sense is hard to come by in this "College, College, College!" mindset we drill into kids heads in this country, and while I'm not arguing against the need, the way we show that need does more harm than good, there just comes a point where at best we get what we love to do, and are good at, looked at by academia at large as luxury and non-essential.

    I won't physically die if I don't cook, read, and listen to music. But take those things away from me, I will be a shell of a man. Period.

    I grew up in the precursor to this push for education overall, but especially for higher education, and with more jobs today demanding some kind of college degree or three, that life can't be lived without them unless your family's rich or thrive in the corporate world.

    I wish parents and teachers would realize that the ways things are now don't help everyone, nor provide hope we all need now, not just children.

    Jody, you once said in a reply to a previous post that we can't escape some form of industrialized education system.

    But it's also a fact that not all kids benefit from seeing education defined in such stark terms.

    I would not have dropped out after 10th grade if I didn't get the love of learning beat out of me, because tests and almighty pieces of paper matters more than passion.

    I wish more people in the U.S. would WAKE UP to the fact that burnout is NO LONGER the problem of the middle-aged and restless, burnout happens to kids, teens, and adults UNDER 30. Period.

    Until the 21st century at large gets that, we can't more forward.

    I've learned over and over again in my "Short Life" thus far that surviving ain't thriving.

    1. Hi Taurean,

      Always appreciate hearing your perspective! You always think so deeply about the issues. Thank you. You've given us all a lot to think about! :-) You know I homeschool my children and one of the reasons why is to help facilitate a life-long love of learning, and also to give them the opportunity to pursue their passions no matter what those might be!

    2. Thanks for replying, Jody. I'm glad my perspective

      I know I get emotional on this topic and hoped my rage didn't go too far. I'm glad you're able to show those principles to your kids, Jody.

      I just wish for kids who aren't thoughtfully homeschooled like yours to have more opportunities to see what you and I know in a non-threatening way.

      I truly believe there'd be less kids checked out of learning altogether (Which would also mean less would drop out in high school as I did) if they saw it could be fun and WITHIN REACH, that more than anything fueled the rage in what I said above, I had to fight outside the school system to find this out for myself, but those not as resilient as I need to know they're more than their GPA, and if they can't learn that at home for whatever reason, we need more ways for them to see that.

  4. I needed to read this post today. I've been feeling like such a loser because all my writing friends are signing contracts or self-publishing and I haven't "made it" yet. Thank you for this.

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      So glad this post was just what you needed! It's so easy to see what everyone else is doing nowadays and to forget that we have our own unique journey and to enjoy it!

  5. I compare myself to others a lot, especially when certain people I know outside of the blogosphere who always tell me about how well they're doing and then immediately ask me what I've done (even though they know I haven't done as much as they have). And I remember being so excited to grow up when I was a teenager. I had this image in my head of what adulthood would be like, and now that I am an "adult", it's the complete opposite of what I imagined.

    1. Sorry to hear about the people who are boasting about their accomplishments and insensitive to yours. Ugh! I guess we just have to know that we're doing the best we can and continue to enjoy the process.

      I often remind my teens that "the grass isn't always greener on the other side." But they think it is! Teens! :-)

  6. Great post, Jody, and congratulations to your son on getting his license! I didn't learn to drive until I was in my 30's, LOL, so I'm very impressed. You are right about social media making some of us think we have to "hurry up" in the writing game. The biggest thing I have to tell myself right now is NOT to hurry up editing my new novel. I need to go slow, I need to be patient, I need to get this book right. And it is a challenge when I see so many of my friends coming out with multiple volumes and series. The way I'm handling this is to go as Zen as I can: no thought of yesterday's editing, and no thought of tomorrow's. Just concentrate on what I have to do today, and without expectation--just let the work be what it is, and be grateful I have the time and ability to do what I love--write and edit! Thanks for posting!

  7. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was still in middle school, but I very quickly realized that publication rarely happens overnight. So I waited. I wrote and wrote and wrote, all through high school, never writing for publication but writing for practice. First to find a style, then to find my style. It took time, but it was part of my plan. After high school, it got a little harder to wait; I was graduated, I should be published already! But I knew that good was better than hurried, that great was better than good, and I knew that the more excellence I poured into my writings, the better the result. It's been hard to watch other author's publish trilogies in the time it's taken me to write one novel {yikes}, but the things I've learned while writing that novel have been so worth it.

  8. Jody, thanks for the wonderful reminder to be content in our current circumstances. Contentment is one of the most difficult things to achieve because... well, you know what they say about green grass. Technology, I agree, has only made this lack of contentment worse, which forces us to push harder to battle it. However, with God and the power of prayer, we can find contentment.


  9. I needed to read this today. I feel so behind because I'm pretty new (2 years this week!) and I write slowly.

    But the funny thing? When I tell family or close friends about my writing, *they* are the ones who are in a huge hurry for me to get published. They don't understand that I'm taking my time with rewrites, learning craft, etc. They seem to be in a bigger rush than I am! I love their enthusiasm, but sometimes, the pressure from others gets to be too much. I wasn't expecting that at all.


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