Annie Gosfield, a young composer herself, tackles the question in the NY Times:
Back in October I was interviewed by Cornelius Dufallo, a fine violinist who recently performed a piece of mine. He sent me a list of questions, the last being, “Any advice for young composers?”
The question took me by surprise — wasn’t I a young composer, too? When did I make the transition to not-so-young composer? Every day I have moments when I feel like a young composer: I struggle with starting projects, experiment with unfamiliar techniques, and deal with interpersonal challenges. There are so many times when I feel like I lack a manual in my day-to-day life. How do I find the time to compose and still take care of all of the boring administrative tasks? What’s the best approach to take with a temperamental musician? Can the violinist really play a phrase that fast, or will his fingers turn into a tangle of scorched flesh? The occasional impossible aesthetic decision can seem easy in comparison. Truth is, if I had the answers to all of the questions, my life would be a lot less interesting. Looking for the answers and keeping an open mind is what keeps it exciting.
Great advice — and inspiration — for anyone, not just composers.