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Writing In Retirement Is The Perfect Time To Fulfill Your Dream Of Publishing A Book Or Articles

Apr 13, 2008
The Gallup pollsters tell us that 81% of mature adults long to write a book.

14,000 Seniors and Boomers polled by Eons.com web site chose writing as one of their most cherished life dreams.

What's your dream? A memoir for loved ones? The novel you've always dreamed of crafting? Are you intrigued by the thought of turning out interesting magazine articles on the favorite hobby you've pursued for so many years? Perhaps you want to maintain contact with your former career by writing articles for trade magazines or possibly even a how-to book.

Don't allow imaginary fears to hold you back? Maybe you're reluctant because writing seems to be so challenging. Limited to just the chosen few. That's nonsense. Don't let those myths keep you from trying what you've always dreamed of.

Retirement Writing

As a retiree you have great advantages that will help you to fulfill your dream. You have time...free time at last to pursue the activities you love. You bring years of life experience and professional knowledge to the task.

Use these advantages to become a published author. You may never reach best seller status, although some late starters have accomplished that feat. But with some effort and dedication, you can place your words in print as an article or a book. And they can be distributed over the Internet for millions to see.

Now is the perfect time to move beyond the starting gate...to set aside those fears of failure. No task can ever be accomplished if it isn't begun. No challenge overcome until it is tackled. So it is with writing. Once you start, you'll see your confidence build.

Lawrence Block, a prolific novelist and writing instructor, says, "Writing has this in common with most other skills; we develop it best by practicing it. Whatever writing we do helps us to become better writers."

Prepare, Then Face Your Computer

The process begins well before you sit down at your computer to write the opening lines of your new gem. A bit of self-searching will put you on track. Think through your answers to several key questions:

* Why do I want to write? Is my goal self-fulfillment? Do I have a message I want to deliver to others? Do I want the thrill of seeing my words in print? Am I trying to supplement my income?

* What category of writing can best help me attain that goal? What category is most comfortable for me?

* Do I want to write just a single piece (a memoir, for example)? Or do I hope to make writing a new career?

* How much time am I willing to devote to the task?

* Will I be happier writing articles or a book?

Whatever your answers may be, be absolutely certain you are comfortable with them. This is particularly important if you plan to write a full-length book, for you will be married to that task for a substantial length of time.

Making Your Choice

One of the most frequent questions beginning writers regularly ask is "Where can I find ideas?" The simple answer is "Look carefully at the world around you." There are no limits to the ideas that astute observers can develop. And writers must be alert spectators.

Endless numbers of ideas exist right in your own home. Coping with a dear one's terminal illness. Issues that caused a divorce. Secrets of a relationship that grows stronger with every year of marriage. An unusual family heritage. Cooking or decorating ideas. Unique holiday celebrations. The list goes on and on.

Outside or your home, a still greater storehouse of ideas beckons you. You find them all around you by listening and watching and hearing what friends and relatives talk about. Stories, books and articles are built around events and emotions that people experience.

You can also find them every day in the newspaper. You can choose to follow up a factual report and expand it far beyond what a rushed reporter can do on a tight deadline. Or you can choose to take the idea and fictionalize it, adding your own twists and turns.

A book like Writer's Market, updated annually by Writer's Digest Books is a treasure trove of ideas. It offers hundreds of pages of periodical listings categorized by subject. Freelancers use it as a bible to locate publications that might use their stories. You can use it as a trigger for ideas as you flip through the 50 categories of consumer magazines and 60 categories of trade journals.

Getting Ready

Whether you're about to embark on a novel or nonfiction, an article or a full length manuscript, you're not ready to face that blank computer monitor until you've completed some critical preparatory tasks.

Most fiction writers begin by drafting an outline of the plot. As the author, you must know your key players as well as you know yourself, and that takes very careful analysis. Of course, changes will be necessitated in the outline as the book progresses. You must research the locale(s) and the time period of the book, for nothing can cause a reader to lose interest faster than discovering factual mistakes made by a careless writer.

Content Is Key

The essence of nonfiction is fact, and you better know your facts intimately and accurately if you are to achieve success. Whether you are writing an historical piece or a how-to, do your research. Know your subject. Those of you who choose to write on your work specialty better make certain you are up to date on all the latest developments. Always remember that progress didn't end on the day you retired. Change has occurred, and you better be aware of it.

The key word here is research. You must understand your subject fully or you run the serious risk of suffering from the author's dread disease, Writer's Block. It usually results from facing a stark white computer screen that seems to leer at you, challenging you to make the leap from brain to computer, from thoughts to words and place them on the computer. Writers who have done their research well and know their subject will seldom if ever face this problem.

The one last component that you must agree to is discipline. Whether you choose to devote only two or three hours a day to your writing or anticipate making it a full-time job, it cannot be hit-or-miss. You must set a rigid schedule, and follow it. A few hours each morning leaves lots of time for other activities, yet adds a hugely enriching complement to your retirement years.
About the Author
Do you need a support system to help jump start your writing career? See what's available free on http://www.retirement-writing.com. Charles Jacobs' latest book "The Writer Within You" is a Best Books of 2007 honoree, a 5-star choice.Click on http://www.retirement-writing.com/The_Writer_Within_You.aspx
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