Are Young Writers in Their Prime?

June 10, 2010 | 2

Sam Tanenhaus, musing about the New Yorker “young writers” list points out that, far from being a writer’s formative years, many of the great classics in literary history were penned by writers in their 30s, or younger.

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. Terrific piece. I wonder whether some of this has to do with a change in how people become writers. Many of the authors in the top 20 have MFAs. So: They get a bachelor’s in something, then they either go into grad school, or perhaps take a few years off to work, then go into grad school. Grad studies are basically a form of apprenticeship. Today’s writer is often in his or her late 20s or 30s before making substantial story/book sales. In olden times (a couple decades or so ago), the person started doing serious writing sooner, I suspect.

    I’d prefer the budding writer to spend more of their 20s working shitty jobs, traveling, and otherwise having experiences rather than sitting in more classrooms, no matter how how many encouraging mentors they might collect or however much networking they might do in those programs.

  2. I didnt realize this at all, so from that standpoint the article was pretty eye opening. Authors creative peak mirroring an athletes physical peak, in roughly the same age groups.

Add Your Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.