How Old Are You In Writer Years? Here’s the Formula…

Just like dogs, writers have their own conversion to human years to make. If you’re a 32-year-old writer writing for 20 years, you’re probably much, much older than a 40-year-old writer writing for 10 years.

How do you go about determining your true writer age? It’s simple.

First of all, discard your real age, which is meaningless. Then

(1) Take the number of years you’ve been writing and multiply it by the number of rejection slips you’ve received.

(2) Divide that number by the number of acceptances. (If zero, use one instead.)

(3) Then subtract the number of times someone (anyone from your mum to the NYT) has said they like your writing.

(4) Add to that result the number of bad reviews you’ve gotten.

(5) Take the number of feuds you’ve had with other writers, multiplied by the number of ranting comments you’ve posted to someone’s blog on a subject related to writing. Add that number to your total.

(6) Subtract the number that represents every time you’ve helped another writer, either by reading something of theirs or by helping them get an agent, etc.

Don’t count the number of times you’ve wept at a rejection or raged in private at some slight. Don’t count the number of times you’ve thought enviously of some other writer’s career. Don’t count the number of times the precarious nature of the business has driven you to drink (or, if you’re under-aged, copious amounts of soda and ice cream). Don’t count the number of times you’ve danced around in your bathrobe because of some success. All of these variables, over the lifetime of a writer, tend to occur in the same numbers for everyone.

So, by that formula I am almost exactly 1,000 years old today. Happy writer’s birthday to me.

27 comments on “How Old Are You In Writer Years? Here’s the Formula…

  1. Ennis Drake says:

    Uh, I’m 30 in writing years. Two years younger than my actual age. I’m going to pretend that’s a good thing.

    Jeff: You need a sabbatical. ; )

  2. Felix Gilman says:

    many happy returns

    but bad reviews make you younger? this has generally not been my experience of bad reviews

  3. I’m just a wee writer. My age equals 7. I guess I need to argue with people more.

  4. Bob Lock says:

    I haven’t been born yet…

  5. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Felix–I think I messed something up there. Will amend shortly.

  6. How do you know the birthdate? Is it first ever publication, or day when you resolve to not be defeated?

  7. Birth date for me is just the first time I can remember writing fiction, which would be around age 8 or 9.

  8. BJ Muntain says:

    I like that you can lower your age by helping other writers. :)

  9. Ann VanderMeer says:

    It depends on the writer you are helping. Some writers will ADD years to your age.

  10. Larry says:

    I think I haven’t been born yet! :O

  11. Hal Duncan says:

    But your writer’s age is a complex number, surely. You’re forgetting the imaginary component which starts with the number of years you’ve wanted the adoration of multitudes. This is multiplied by the number of hours per day you spend on the internet, divided by the number of those that are actual research. Add on a year for every time you’ve *claimed* it was research when it was actually just looking at pictures of dogs in snoods. Add on a decade for every time you’ve outlined the full plot of this Really Exciting Thing you’re working on to someone who wasn’t really that interested. Subtract a year for every work actually finished. Divide by mean units of alcohol consumed per week. Multiply by median units of alcohol consumed per week. Raise to the power of the number of times you’ve thought, “YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE GENIUS THAT IS MEEEEE!!!” even if not in those exact words.

    There may well be other factors in the equation, but this should give you a rough guesstimate of your imaginary years as a writer.

  12. Uninvoked says:

    well lets see here…

    2 x 40/4 – 109 +3 + 0 – 2 …I think I’m in the negatives. O.o

  13. jeff vandermeer says:

    if u run negative add 80 since all writers are born curmudgeons. and remember I am an absurdist. and don’t listen to the mad scotsman. listen to the flying dutchman…

  14. Angela Slatter says:

    I think I may be dead…

  15. Larry says:

    Hrmm…so all essayists/reviewers are by their very nature curmudegeons? And I’d rather listen to Captain Morgan, which is neither mad nor flying…I hope.

  16. Kristan says:

    Nice, lol. I’m at least in the 600 to 800 range. Now how many more until I’m a career author? Le sigh.

  17. Adam says:

    I’m 117, which is only slightly less than six times my age. I’d say that’s a pretty fair start.

  18. Drax says:

    Judas Priest, I am dead. “You can not hurt me now!”

  19. Hellbound Heart says:

    i think i may have been born rather prematurely according to this post, which means i haven’t even clocked up my first birthday yet……

    peace and love…

  20. Emmy Jackson says:

    Oh, dear. Either my math is wrong, or I know why I’m so tired; according to this formula I’m almost 4700 years old.

  21. Ok, I’ve done this twice now and I’m 240. That seems about right.

  22. jen storer says:

    I’m with Angela Slatter—I think I may be dead. Either that or I’m some kind of demented phoenix…

  23. Gillian says:

    I’m a minor character from The Blue Bird, I think: even adding 80 it’s years and years before I will be born.

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