As anyone in their 50s or 60s can tell you, there’s still a lot of learning, exploring, growing—and, yes, mistake-making—to come.

Midlife is just another milepost, not a stop sign.

We asked Judy Collins, 79, Grammy-award-winning singer and songwriter, what wisdom she’d impart to her 50- or 60-year-old self. Given how her life turned out, what does she wish she’d known two or three decades earlier?

Tend to your creativity

“I wish I’d known that good habits are very productive. Though I always worked, in my 50s and 60s I didn’t write every day, which is something I do now.

“That’s a good lesson: If you’re a writer, you just keep writing every day because you’ve got to be there when the big idea arrives! Creativity is nonstop, and needs to be tended to at all times. It’s one of the most important areas of our lives. We all have to find some way to find a creative outlet: painting or writing or dancing.

“You have to continue to learn. I just love my brain—it surprises me all the time. You never know what’s coming—you just don’t know. Be prepared to guess!”

This is part of a series of Interviews conducted by Max Alexander, Austin Kilham, Lynn Shattuck, and Emily E. Smith.

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