Now that I’m retired, how do I become a writer, part II

Last week we talked about starting a writing career after retirement. It’s something I see a lot of seniors wanting to do. They show up at writing conferences, take my classes or mention it to me at social occasions. After years of thinking about writing, now they’re ready to do it. But what do they actually need to do?

In my Aug. 8 post, I offered some questions would-be writers should ask themselves: Do I need to make money from their writing, what do I want to write, and what do I know a lot about?

Here are three more questions to consider.

How good are you at self-discipline?

If you want to do more than scribble a few words when you feel inspired, you’re going to need to get serious about your writing. That means establishing a regular writing routine that may sometimes feel like you’re not retired after all. On a regular basis, whether it’s every day or every Tuesday afternoon, you’ll need to commit to sitting down and writing for a specific length of time or a minimum number of words. In order to make that work, you’ll need to set up a place to write and acquire the tools to write with and tell the world you’re not available at that time because you’re writing. This is not easy. Some days, you will not want to write, and some days you’ll have a hundred other things calling for your attention, but if you really want to be a writer, you’ll do it anyway. Just like a job.

Are you prepared to market your writing?

If you just want to write for yourself, that’s perfectly fine. Have fun playing with words, maybe writing in your journal or putting together poems or booklets for your friends and family. That’s a wonderful thing to do. But if your goal is to be published and paid for it, you’ll need to learn how to send out your writing to periodicals and websites, pitch your books to agents and editors, and ultimately sell your books to readers via social media, readings, talks, etc. It’s a lot. It’s not writing. It’s scary. But it’s a necessary evil, and it can be lots of fun.

Are you ready to reach out for support and to learn your craft?

Writing can be a lonely business. But we don’t have to be alone all the time. Writing groups can be found everywhere. Join up with other writers to share information, to critique each other’s work, or just to offer sympathy and support. You can take writing workshops in every state and around the world, as well as online. (I offer a few. Check my Classes page above). Tons of books and websites offer advice for writers. See my Resource page (above) for a list. Magazines such as Writer’s Digest, The Writer, and Poets & Writers offer tons of information about all kinds of writing and places to publish. You can find online groups in every writing specialty. So reach out.

If you really want to be a writer, you can do it. You’re never too old to begin. All you have to do is start writing.

Please feel free to post questions and comments. I’m here to help.

Now go write.


Three tips: Writing classes, ‘Quiet’ book, body parts

Click this:

I try not to promote myself too much here, but I have to let you know that I have four online classes for writers starting new sessions on Aug. 1. In each class, students receive weekly email lessons and assignments which are due the following week. I offer extensive critiques of student work and responses to questions any time throughout the course. My students, both online and in person, have gone on to publish extensively, and I welcome the chance to help you do the same.

I have two new classes, Create and Maintain a Successful Blog and Writing and Selling Freelance Articles. Returning are two of my favorites, How to Write and Sell a Column and Reviews and Opinion Pieces. For an overview of all four classes and to sign up, visit http://www.suelick.com/Classes.html.

On the Classes page, you will also find information about my editing and critique services. I would love to help you with your writing.

Read this:

I just finished reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Cain has done extensive research on personality types and the differences between outgoing folks who like to be surrounded by people and quiet folks who prefer to spend their time alone. Although this is not specifically a book for writers, it does offer fascinating insights into how people are wired, and it might give you something to think about as you write about real or imaginary characters.

Try this:

(borrowed from poet Barbara Drake’s workshop)

Pick a body part and come up with as many different metaphors for it as you can in 15 minutes. For example, I used my elbow in our workshop the other night and called it a hinge, a right angle, a bend in the road, etc. If one or more of these inspire a poem or something else, shut off the timer and keep writing.

Now go write