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Writing in Retirement is an Ideal Way to Share Life Experiences With Your Loved Ones

Jul 5, 2008
Long before your retiring, you dreamed of becoming a writer. You're not alone. The Gallup Organization found that 81% of mature adults dream of writing a book.

You've never attempted more than the basic writing required by your career--letters, perhaps a report, even a grant application. Now at last, as a retiree you have the time to fulfill your long-cherished dream, to begin retirement writing. But the task seems a bit overwhelming. You agonize over how best to start.

Sharing the highlights of your life can be most rewarding for either a novice or an advanced writer. It's a gift your loved ones and close friends will always welcome. Crafting a memoir is an ideal way to venture into the joys of retirement writing.

Many wanna-be authors find that creating a memoir is a relatively easy way to begin their writing experience. It doesn't demand the formality of a novel or play script. The subject matter, if handled with complete objectivity, can replace the need to develop a plot. And it is a comfortable way to reveal your opinions and deep-seated emotions.

Integrity and Objectivity

After the unpleasant disclosures in recent years of fabrications and distortions in some best-selling memoirs, it is essential that every effort be made to remain objective and completely honest as you recount family histories, describe other characters in your story and write about your own alleged accomplishments.

Over time, the human mind tends to forget less pleasant details. You can distort the description of a person or a relationship when seen strictly from your own private point of view. Therefore, it is imperative that you as the memoirist reach out to anyone who has first hand knowledge of the period, event or persons you are writing about.

You must also remember that the process of selecting people and events for your memoir is highly subjective. There is no real way to overcome this bias other than to make a concerted effort to strive for objectivity. Expert memoirist Lawrence P Gouldrup, PhD, writes, "As we experience life, we mentally distinguish between those events and personalities that are insignificant trivia and those that have been important and memorable to us....we constantly bring our own private experiences into focus by seeing events and people in certain patterns."

That doesn't mean, however, that while striving for balance and accuracy, the memoirist shouldn't add greater depth and meaning to an incident by personalizing its impact. Whether a situation elicited joy, sorrow, anger or raised the writer's consciousness humanizes the story and invites the reader to empathize with him/her. Whenever it is possible to detail the reactions of others with accuracy, you will strengthen your story still further

Getting Started

While remembering and sorting out the relevant experiences of your life may seem like an insurmountable task at first, I have counseled a number of successful memoirists to spend one hour or so every day for a week sitting alone and quietly and reaching back for significant memories.

Clear your mind completely of distractions, as you would if you were meditating. Reach back for special family events, dinners, holidays, vacations, etc. The recollection of a unique piece of clothing--a dress or suit you absolutely loved when six-years-old--can trigger wonderful memories of the special event at which you wore it. A favorite family food tradition, even the color of your house, perhaps the first day of school. There are so many diverse memories that combine to help you develop the overall theme and story line of your book.

Shaping Your Story

The next step before finalizing your outline and sitting down to write is determining your audience. Ask yourself these important questions. Will this be a book available only to close friends and family members? Or do you plan to market the book widely? Are you targeting a specific age group that is familiar with the time period in which you set your tale? Is your planned audience composed of members of one sex?

A second major consideration is the viewpoint from which you are writing. Are you planning a family history in which you are just one of many cogs in the wheel? Or are you framing the story around your own experiences and making yourself the focal point of the piece? The viewpoint from which you write must be determined before a single word goes into the computer.

All of these concerns must be factored into the way you plan your story well before you face your empty computer screen. If you have done your preparation properly and answered these basic questions, you will find that the actual writing of the memoir becomes the proverbial "piece of cake.

Researching and preparing the memoir can be done rather easily because the subject matter is so familiar to you. You are writing about YOU, and once you master doing that with balance and objectivity and even a degree of detachment, you will find this exercise a fabulous launch pad for future success as an author. It is an ideal stepping stone to crafting either fiction or nonfiction in the future.

Do you need a support system to help jump start your writing career? See what's available free on http://www.retirement-writing.com. the web site of writing coach and author Charles Jacobs. His latest book "The Writer Within You" is a Best Books of 2007 honoree, a 5-star choice on Amazon, B&N and Borders and a selection of the Writer's Digest Book Club. Find detailed info and order it at a substantial discount by clicking on http://www.retireandwrite.com
About the Author
Find free articles and eBooks on http://www.retirement-writing.com. the web site of writing coach and author Charles Jacobs. His latest book "The Writer Within You" is a Best Books of the Year honoree. Click on http://www.retireandwrite.com to order it at a substantial discount.
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