Retirement is the time to explore new activities or revisit old hobbies. And one activity many people are drawn to is writing.
Different people have different reasons for becoming a writer later in life. Some take up fiction writing as a means of creative expression. Others may be keen on sharing their life story and leaving a legacy. Still others may see it as an opportunity to share their expert knowledge about a particular topic.
That said, these same people may be reluctant to call themselves writers. They may feel that “a writer” is someone who earns their living from their work or who’s very serious about their craft.
Plus, there’s a certain vulnerability that comes from declaring yourself a writer. Once you do it, people will ask you what you’ve written, and you’ll be obliged to share some of your work with them. If they happen not to like it, it’s easy to take their reaction personally.
If you’re concerned about this, you may choose to keep your writing to yourself. And that’s fine. But if you’re willing to put your writing – and by extension yourself – “out there,” you’ll have shown a special type of courage that many people don’t have. And you can draw a certain satisfaction from that no matter what kind of response your material receives.
Something else to consider: hearing what other people think about your writing gives you a chance to get better, even if you have to take some feedback with a grain of salt.
By the way, here’s a tip. Before asking someone to provide feedback on what you’ve written, get it clear in your head what you really want from them. Is it an unvarnished critique of your work? A quick check-over for grammar and spelling? Or simple encouragement?
Once you’ve sorted that out, let the person know upfront. That way they don’t have to guess what you’re hoping for. No matter how they respond to your work, don’t get defensive. And be sure to thank them.
As with any hobby, the time, effort, and emotion you invest in writing is up to you.
A lot of people are attracted to fiction writing for the fun of it. Unlike the mundane writing they might have done for work, creative writing allows them to use their imagination and draw from their many years of observing human behavior.
Some people will write for themselves, never intending to share their work with anyone other than perhaps a few select friends. Others may have bigger ambitions, aiming to publish their stories for a much wider audience. The emergence of self-publishing over recent decades has made this easier to achieve.
Sharing your life story
Many people hesitate to write about themselves because they don’t think their lives have been all that interesting. The thing is, we all have a story to tell, no matter who we are. And who better to tell your story (or stories) than you?
In recent years, different resources have popped up to enable people in their later years to capture their personal stories. For instance, Feet to the Fire Writers’ Workshops started out at several retirement communities and have since expanded online. They not only guide you through the process of writing your own story, but they also provide you with a supportive community of people who are doing the same thing.
Sharing your expertise
Maybe you’d like to pass on knowledge or skills that you’ve accumulated over the years. Starting a blog is one way of doing that. It could be about something you were good at during your career or a side interest you’ve been pursuing. Whatever it is, you feel you have something to teach that would be of value to someone else.
That doesn’t mean you have to be a pre-eminent expert in the field. It just means there are people out there who could benefit from learning something you happen to know.
Unless you already have a following, you may want to start small. Check in with people you already know who might be interested in what you have to teach to get a better understanding of the type of information they would find helpful. Write a short piece and test it with them to see if you’re on the right track.
Finding guidance and support
You’ll find lots of online resources to help you develop your writing skills. You can work away at it on your own, but getting feedback from an experienced writer whose opinion you trust is the key to getting better.
Writing needn’t be a solitary process. Joining a writing group can help you make new friends, particularly if the group is run by someone who knows how to make it a safe and welcoming space. At North Chandler Place, we enjoy helping people pursue new creative interests or rekindle old ones. And we’re all about providing a welcoming community in which to do it. To help you better understand senior living options and financing all types of senior care, we created a comprehensive guide. We invite you to download A Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing with our compliments!