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Writing in retirement: a simple formula to get started.

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Are you interested in doing some form of writing in retirement?  Great, I’m going to share some simple ideas to make that a reality. Whether that means writing a book, blog, presentation or for a major media outlet like Forbes , writing is an effective way to add meaning and value to your life in retirement.

There are many benefits to writing including the ability to express yourself, share knowledge and experience, as well as to influence or support others.  Whatever the goal or objective of your writing, the important thing is getting started.

Are you ready to start writing in retirement? (Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

But where should you begin? With a blog, news article, or book? Here’s a simple formula to achieve all three.

Start With A Blog

I encourage new or even existing writers to start their own blog.  This will allow you to hone your voice and skills, as well as allow you to see what people like and respond to.  You may write a weekly blog and find that some topics and titles only get a few views, whereas others generate hundreds or even thousands of views.

It’s important not to take it personal, but rather to use it as research into what readers want and are looking for. By taking this approach you can develop a niche or area of specialization that you can be known for. This is crucial because it’s hard to sell a book to people that don’t know you or your voice.  So, blogging can not only produce great content but also future revenue when you are ready to consolidate your thoughts into a book.

Another great thing about starting with a blog is that once you get going, you can guest blog for other people and even some media outlets.  Often local newspapers (including online newspapers) accept reader blogs, and sources like The Huffington Post are popular for accepting blog pitches from new writers and giving them exposure to the big leagues.

News Articles

Now not everyone will want to write for a major media outlet, but once you have developed a consistent flow for blogging, garnered yourself a few fans, and even appeared in some local media, you can reach out to an editor and pitch your writing skills to them.

The key thing here is having reference links where editors can see the number of views, comments, and get a sense for your style.  You’re much more appealing when you bring an audience, even if it’s a small one, and / or provide specialized knowledge and experience.

It’s worth pointing out that major media outlets can have different styles and requirements. For example, Forbes allows us to have expert opinions where we can share our knowledge and experience.  However, other places I have written for, want three or more other experts quoted in the blog. Two very different styles, so make sure your pitch fits their format.

Writing a 200-page book is very different than writing a 750-word blog.  Some people find the idea of writing an entire book intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be, especially if you start with a blog.  As I mentioned earlier, by knowing which titles and topics appeal to people, you can use that information to outline your book.

One way to start is to write down your most popular blog posts in order of most views, shares, and comments.  This should produce a top 10 or 20 that you can develop a general theme from.  My latest book, Retirement Rx, is an assembly of blogs I had written over the last few years that is designed to help people remedy the need to plan for the non-financial aspects of retirement.

Since most of the content was already written and edited, my primary focus was on bringing the chapters together and creating a consistent style.  It’s also much easier to sell a book when you an audience and reputation.

Becoming an author is a great personal achievement that can also lead to other things such as speaking engagements or training opportunities.  Both of which can be valuable to your retirement in terms of connecting with others, keeping mentally sharp, and in some cases, putting some extra money in your pocket.

Overall, writing in retirement can be a great way to not only add meaning and value to your life in retirement, but also express yourself, share knowledge and experience, as well as to influence others.

Robert Laura

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becoming a writer in retirement

The Writing Cooperative

Debra Lobel

Feb 1, 2017

Member-only

How I Retired and Kept my Sanity by Becoming a Writer

As I watched my father descend into an Alzheimer’s oblivion, I worried that my children would be facing the same challenging future with me. When I celebrated my 60th birthday, a year before my father died, I made a decision to stay mentally active. Doing puzzles, reading, memory exercises and taking walks were some of the recommended activities that I already did.

A friend who worked with dementia patients suggested that I use the other side of my brain.

“Which side is that?” I asked.

“The right side of the brain is the creative side. Your profession in the tech industry requires you to use the left side of your brain, the one for logic.”

“Do you mean like arts and crafts kinds of things?”

“Yes,” she said. “Anything creative. Even keeping a journal or writing stories.”

“If my kindergarten teacher had given out grades, I would have failed,” I said. “My first-grade teacher used my drawings as bad examples of what trees, houses, people, cars or any other objects looked like.”

“Then write. It isn’t hard. You don’t even have to show it to anyone else if you don’t want to.”

My friend wasn’t the first one to encourage me to write. Many professionals I knew who were in the mental health care industry had been encouraging me to write a memoir on how I managed to care for two special needs kids, a chronically ill partner and both my parents who lived on the opposite coast, all while I was working full-time. After my mother had died, I decided to take my friend’s advice.

I started the memoir. I wrote and wrote and wrote for hours. Then I read it. It was boring. Lots of facts that put even me to sleep. There was no emotion in my words, even when I wrote about what it was like to talk to the man who called me while I was trick or treating with my kids. I didn’t even describe the noise level that was so loud from the hundreds of partying people, having to ask the doctor several times to repeat himself before his words finally registered that my mother had died and I could only feel my heart pounding in my ears as I searched for my children who were somewhere in the crowd.

I read books on how to write and joined online writing groups that gave me great feedback on how much I needed to improve. I tried and produced decent stories with mediocre writing.

A week after my 64th birthday, I was laid off (the formal dismissal was that my job was eliminated) and knew it was near impossible for anyone who was a year from retirement would be able to get a job. The typical employee in my field was a 26-year-old male. I had no other choice than to retire when my unemployment ran out.

After more than 45 years of having a regimen and structure in my life, I was lost, vegetating, not knowing what to do every day when I woke up. I felt my brain cells packing up and leaving due to lack of activity. Depression was setting in. I felt useless.

It was then that I remembered my friend’s description of the two hemispheres of the brain and realized that I had favored, almost exclusively, the left side of my brain for my entire life. The right side of my brain had probably atrophied to the size of a peach pit. I alerted my remaining brain cells that they needed to exercise, and put myself on a strict regimen of learning how to write to revive my creative side.

I took online courses, read books, joined more writing groups, had writing partners, wrote stories, shared them and learned from the critiques. I wrote more stories and edited them (sometimes I cheat and use Grammarly) and rewrote them again. During NaNoWriMo, I wrote shitty first drafts of novels.

Currently, I’m revising my memoir with the help of a coach, Brooke Warner, who says I have a fascinating story, but my scenes lack emotion and details of sight, sound, texture, and taste. There is still too much telling and not enough showing. All writers know this, but it doesn’t come easy for me. My plan is to re-read the chapter on scene in her book (along with Linda Joy Meyers) Breaking Ground on Your Memoir . I’ve also given my brain the following instructions:

Left brain: Stand down and desist for now until further notice.

Right Brain: Get off the couch and get to work.

Is my writing great? No, but it has improved. If you’ve read this far, it can’t be all that bad. I have a new routine with a purpose in my life and I’m enjoying my new career.

Recently I asked myself, am I really a writer? According to 12 Signs you are (Probably) a Born Writer by Sobia Q , I am a writer. It is probably a latent trait, but it’s being used now.

The following are the points Sobia makes in her article followed by my comment in italics.

1. You haunt libraries. You have always haunted libraries and walked, rapt, around bookshops (sometimes secretly smelling the pages of a book you’ve freshly opened, when you think no one’s looking).

There’s a library at the corner of my street. I stop and peek into the windows to see all the books, but I rarely use it because my personal library is overflowing. That’s because there are two independent bookstores within four blocks of my house and I can’t pass them by without window shopping (and getting sucked in). The atmosphere is magical.

2. Your favorite people are often fictional characters. Their stories sometimes haunt you — and often you can’t sleep at night due to your feelings about those characters’ dilemmas. They might even be your own fictional characters.

Who is a better-developed person than a fictional character, especially my own?

3. You have been writing from when you were this high (place hand somewhere by your hip) — of course.

I was never a writer until recently (I just published my first story, A Christmas Caroler: A New Twist to a Classic Story , a few months ago).

4. You would write even if there were no money, no fame, no glory — it’s a compulsion.

I’m writing because I must, even if there is no fame, glory or money (but it would be nice).

5. You had some fairly detailed imaginary worlds as a child . (Like the Bronte’s “Gondal” perhaps).

Shhh. Don’t tell anyone about my imaginary worlds.

6. You love words and are always searching for that perfect word . Sometimes you mentally edit other people’s stuff you are reading.

If I spend hours writing every day, I feel accomplished when I have found that perfect word or phrase. I often edit other people’s writing in my head.

7. Sometimes you sit down to write — and then look at the clock . Its past dinnertime — where did the time go?

If I haven’t finished writing, nothing else matters.

8. Your characters often come alive and start doing their own thing . When you next sit down to write, you are catching up with what they have been up to, rather than making them do things.

My characters find the weirdest times to talk to me, mostly as I’m falling asleep. Naturally, I must take notes and promise to solve their complaints in the morning.

9. You’re seriously into people watchin g — and figuring out why people say and do those crazy things.

I’ve always been a people watcher. I love to stand at a corner and listen to conversations or watch people in stores (some have asked me if I’m security) before taking out my small notebook and jotting down ideas for stories. Sitting at a restaurant counter is one of the best places to people watch.

10. You often feel you could express it better in writing than you could verbally . When you’re really emotional — you want to write it to the other person.

When things are too hard to say in person, I express my emotions on paper. Sometimes I share it. Other times when it’s too harsh, I include it in my fiction.

11. The most mundane experiences are grist for the mill . Even things that are inconvenient, like getting splattered with water as a car drives past — can get transformed into a writing experience.

Mundane experiences are the best source of writing prompts since they are based on what happens to people and how they react.

12. Oh, and did I say you haunt libraries and bookshops? You love books. As a child, you would read under the duvet after lights out — and not much has changed.

Don’t tell my parents about reading under the covers. They always got upset. I’m just thrilled I have a backlit reading device now.

The Writing Cooperative is a community of people helping each other write better. Become a member to join our Slack team, get fresh eyes on your writing, and participate in the 52-Week Writing Challenge !

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You CAN Become A Writer Later In Life! (Read This)

becoming a writer in retirement

Are you wondering if you can become a writer later in life? There’s a good chance that becoming a writer is something you’ve always dreamed of. As a retiree, this might be the perfect time to become a writer.

You can become a (successful) writer later in life because as you age you have grown wiser, collected life experiences, met a lot of people with different stories, and developed new perspectives on life that are excellent requirements for storytelling. Many successful writers started late in life like J.R.R. Tolkien, JK Rowling, etc. And because writing takes time, retirement is the perfect time to become a writer.

Now that you know that you can become a writer later in life, let’s get started with how to become a writer later in life. Ready to learn more? Let’s dig in! 

Just a heads up, this post contains some affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases . Purchases you make through these links may earn us a small commission,  at no extra cost to you .

How To Become A Writer Later In Life

There isn’t a specific description of what it means to be a writer. Some people say you can only call yourself a writer when you published a book. For others, it’s when you’re writing articles on a website or for a magazine. To refer to yourself as “I am a writer,” the most important thing is that you’re writing and publishing original content. It doesn’t matter about what you write and where you publish it. Or if you can make a living out of it. As long as you are happy with your writing and can reach the goals you have in mind, you can call yourself a successful writer. 

As a retiree, you probably have enough time to start with writing. So, retirement might be the best time to start writing and become a writer. I never thought I would become a writer myself. Today I write articles for this website daily. Since I started writing, I published over 150 articles and a helpful ebook titled  Five Steps To Happiness In Retirement .  The book is a helpful guide for (new) retirees to transform into their new lifestyle. You can find out more about the book here. 

My biggest lesson about becoming a writer was that you need to stay focused and keep on writing. Just let the words flow and write as if you’re talking to a friend or neighbor. This way, it’s getting easier to write a story. Once you’ve created a way that works for you, you want to fine-tune your approach to get more successful. 

The most successful approach is different for every writer. However, there are a few similar things for everyone, like focusing on one topic and researching.

For some writers, it works best if they create an outline for their book or article first. This way, they basically know what they want to write. Others just start writing their stories and later edit them for readability. What works best for you is only something you’ll figure out by doing it. Just start writing stories using different techniques to see what works best. 

Researching your topic is also an essential aspect of writing. Depending on your subject, you might have to spend a lot of time researching. It’s important to stay aware that you don’t get stuck in researching and forgetting to write your stories. When I’m writing articles, for example, I always need to do my research first. However, as a general rule, I use the time I spend on research equally when writing that article. So, if I’m researching for one hour, I also use a minimum of one hour for writing. 

Improve Your Writing Skills

Many people who want to become a writer are doubting about their writing skills. But like I mentioned before, the most important thing you can do to become a writer is to start writing.

The tips and tricks I share with you in this article help you become a writer yourself. For me, it was also very helpful to follow different writing courses from professional and worldwide successful writers. When I wanted to improve my writing skills, I looked for an online course that I could easily follow. The platform MasterClass is very beneficial to follow courses from the most successful people in the world. 

On the MasterClass platform, you can find 20 different courses related to writing. There are classes about writing poetry, screenwriting for movies, mystery writing, fiction, researching, etc. The teachers happen to be the best writers in the world. A few examples of writing classes currently available on the MasterClass platform are; 

The best thing about the MasterClass platform is that you can buy an annual membership, which has all-access, and costs you a little less than 17 USD a month. So with the annual membership, you can follow all the MasterClasses available on the platform. Currently, there are over 150+ classes available in 11 different categories. 

A MasterClass membership is not only perfect for improving your writing skills but also for learning more about other things that are fun and beneficial.  

Choose A Topic To Write About

If you want to write a book, it’s helpful if you already have a topic in mind you want to write about. This makes the writing process much more manageable. Of course, you can also write about things, but staying focused on one topic at a time makes it easier to finish your book. 

Let’s say you’ve worked as a director at a company and want to share your managing skills with future generations. Focusing on the different skills you want to share helps you to create an outline and your story. 

Sometimes it can also be helpful just to start writing down your thoughts and see where it leads you to. Maybe you’ll find a topic to write about you didn’t even think of before. 

It’s also possible that you have many different topics you want to write about. I found it helpful just to focus on one topic first. And when I finished writing an article or book, I then head on to a different topic. This approach helped me to focus. 

Use Writing Tools

Grammarly Writing Support

Writing courses are helpful to become a successful writer and improve your writing skills. When you’re actually writing, it is beneficial to use writing tools like Grammarly. I always write my articles in the Grammarly editor because it’s so helpful to quickly improve my grammar and fix typos. 

I also like the build-in tool with suggestions on how a sentence can be more engaging and easier to read for a general audience. 

When you’re serious about writing and want to sell or publish your books or articles, using a tool like Grammarly is a must. You instantly create a more professional way of writing for yourself. 

Grammarly has a free plan, which gives you basic writing suggestions. However, I recommend using the premium plan, which has many more options and helpful tips like clarity, engagement, and a style guide. You can sign up for your Grammarly Premium account here . 

Stay Focused On Your Writing Goals

Staying focused on your writing goals is one of the most important things you can do to become a successful writer. For example, when I’m writing an article, I make sure I only focus on writing at that moment. 

I set a timer for like two hours and only focus on writing for that time. I don’t use my phone or browse to another website online during my writing because then I will lose my focus. 

Sometimes I write for 5 to 6 hours a day, and then I just plan some breaks in between where I can do other things. I feel like it’s important to focus on something different for a few minutes to keep a fresh mind when I’m writing for a longer time. However, the other things I’ll do during my breaks are off-topic. I just go for a walk or drink a cup of coffee or something. To create new energy and refocus on my writing topics. 

Find out what works best for you, as long as you focus on our topic and just start writing. 

Kirsten Veldman

I'm Kirsten. In 2017, my husband Léon, and I decided to retire from the rat race to travel the world and work and live location independently. In the last couple of years, I wrote over 200+ articles about retirement and did extensive research to help people prepare, enjoy and celebrate retirement in the best way possible.

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Retirement And Good Living

Writing in Retirement

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While saving enough money to pay for retirement is important, it’s also essential to plan what you’ll do with all that free time. Sure, at first you’ll be happy relaxing, watching movies, reading books, and gardening. However, now that we’re all living longer, these activities probably won’t keep you entertained for the next 20 to 30 years.

After a while you may want something more exciting and fulfilling to occupy all those years. Some retirees turn to travel, spending time with their family, or volunteering. Interestingly, 12 percent of Americans say they aspire to write a book in retirement.

Does that idea appeal to you? After all, you have a lifetime of accumulated memories and experiences. Perhaps you’re considering writing a memoir for your grandchildren. Or does blogging appeal to you as a more interactive experience that might also bring in a bit of money? Maybe you’ve always dreamed of writing a novel.

It’s never too late to become a writer. Linda Lombri, 65, and Virginia Cornue, 68, from Montclair, New Jersey took the leap and re-invented themselves as mystery writers. They began an e-book series which is sold on 10 websites including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple iTunes. Author P. D. James is another example of a famous older author who began writing in her 40s and at the age of 93 says she wants to write just one more detective novel.

Perhaps you think that you need to have a degree in English or know someone in the business to make this dream come true. I’ve been writing professionally for 20 years. How did I get started? Without a college degree or connections to the publishing world. I signed up for a six-week adult education writing class at the local community college. No joke. After that, I read every book in the library on writing, finished two correspondence courses through Writer’s Digest, attended a writer’s conference, and joined the Palm Springs Writers’ Guild. A few years later, my first short story was published in a literary magazine for which I was paid a whopping $25. I was thrilled.

Since that time I’ve had three books published: two young adult novels along with a non-fiction book I co-authored published by McGraw Hill. I lived the dream of having a book signing at Barnes and Noble and seeing my books on their shelves. Hundreds of my articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines and I’ve won three journalism awards.

Still thrilled to be a writer, I am currently working on a fourth book, have my own blog, and freelance for various clients. All that from my humble beginnings. I started out on this journey in my 20s while I was working a secular job and raising two sons. You’ll be ahead of the game with the freedom and time you have in retirement.

So here’s some advice if you’d like to go down this road of becoming a writer:

Learn the Craft

Retirement is the perfect time to learn and acquire new skills. Some colleges and universities even offer free or deeply discounted tuition to retirees above a certain age. Or if you prefer, take a correspondence course and check out books at the library on writing like me. Writing groups can be a fun way to share information and critique each other’s work while you support each other through this adventure. Magazines such as Writer’s Digest, offers a lot of valuable information, as well as various websites on the Internet.

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Retirement hobbies: becoming a writer later in life.

Writing-in-Retirement

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.

Retirement Hobbies:

As with any hobby, the time, effort, and emotion you invest in writing is up to you.

Creative writing

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!

becoming a writer in retirement

North Chandler Place Staff

Becoming a Writer Later in Life (How to Get Started?)

Have you ever thought about becoming a writer later in life? Well, everything is possible!

The most quintessential example is Bertha Wood.

Top 8 Tips for Becoming a Writer Later in Life

1. believe in yourself.

First off, you need to believe in yourself! It’s no use learning the other tips if you don’t have a strong conviction that you can do it.

2. Use Your Experience

You must have also read a lot more books, journals, newspapers, magazines, and even writers’ famous quotes than younger writers. Then, it’s safe to assume that you have a better understanding of the various writing genres and have seen a lot more different writing techniques you can replicate, or even improve.

3. Learn Your Craft

During your class, you will also share your writing with your classmates and the teacher. This might sound daunting, but it’s essential to get feedback if you want to improve your writing .

4. Keep Writing

One of the most important things for a writer to do is to keep practicing and perfecting his or her craft. Write a little every day. This will help improve your writing and keep those creative juices flowing!

5. Make a Plan

You should also set timescales and break your goal into manageable parts. Each milestone you reach will give you extra encouragement to keep working.

6. Seek Writing Opportunities

This should be part of your plan. There are lots of different writing jobs and places where you can look for work.

7. Sell Yourself

If you are serious about becoming a writer, whether you are 17 or 70, you will need to put your writing out there.

8. Get On Social Media

It is also a great opportunity to connect with other writers – virtual networking!

Time to Get Started

Once you have decided on the type of writing you want to do, you can formulate a plan to help you achieve it. Remember, social media will be a useful tool for you, as a writer. Don’t be afraid to use it.

Rafal Reyzer

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The Essential Guide to Becoming a Writer

Clifford Chi

Updated: October 06, 2018

Published: October 02, 2018

My path to becoming a professional writer is a slightly unconventional one. In college, I majored in economics, took one English class, and originally thought financial advising was my destiny. But today, instead of walking people through their retirement plan, I spend 90% of my work day writing -- and I absolutely love it.

Become-Writer

So how did I do it? Well, once I decided to seriously pursue a career in writing, I realized it’s a craft -- sharpening my writing skills would require countless hours and repetitions. And that's exactly what I did after I finished my homework at school. I learned how to write.

Every role in business requires strong business writing. Take the business  writing training to sharpen your skills.

Professional writing is an incredible gig for creative people -- it provides both fulfillment and financial stability. If this sounds like the career you’ve always wanted -- even if you don’t have a lot of experience like I did -- writing for a living is entirely possible. You just need to be passionate about the craft and disciplined enough to put in the work. My story is proof -- and I’ll teach you how to do it.

How to become a writer

Read Every Single Day

When I stumbled upon my first digital marketing internship, I had no idea what content marketing was. So I Googled it, and that's when I discovered HubSpot’s Marketing Blog.

Two years later, after reading posts about content marketing every day, I could distill almost any topic, like a dry economics topic about the consolidation of the grain trading industry, into a blog post-like format. And being able to structure most topics in a digestible way and writing in a conversational tone is what helped me land an internship on HubSpot’s blog team.

Reading when you're a writer is like listening to music when you’re a musician. It improves your skills because it inspires you to create better work. When you read great writing, especially by the masters of your genre or industry, these writers are essentially teaching you their craft -- you just have to pay close attention to their diction, syntax, cadence, voice, and structure. Jotting down your observations or some inspirational thoughts is even better for you.

Reading regularly can also arm you with some of the most important tools in a writer's arsenal: a refined vocabulary, the ability to quickly grasp new concepts, and the versatility to adapt your voice and style to any audience.

But one of the most prevalent obstacles of regularly reading is finding the time to do it. Most people place reading at the top of their to-do-list but never seem able to cross it off.

To read everyday, you must hold yourself accountable. Most people can finish a median-length book in only one week, if they just read for 45 minutes per day , so all you have to do is keep an active reading list and block off less than an hour each day to do so.

If you need help making a reading list, here are the following books, newspapers, magazines, and marketing blogs that I found most helpful when I first started writing:

Now that I’m a full-time staff writer on HubSpot’s blog team, I owe a lot of my development as a writer to the habit of reading one blog post everyday.  Reading and analyzing the work of the marketing industry’s top writers taught me how to emulate their best qualities -- but it took discipline to read everyday for three years.

The good news is that if you just take one hour out of your day to learn about writing, you’ll be able to hone your skills in the long-run.

Write as Often as Possible

Even though I majored in economics, I went to a liberal arts college, so my school’s curriculum was extremely focused on writing. Each class I took had multiple writing assignments. And once I knew that I wanted to work in digital marketing, I started writing all my papers in the form of a blog post. 

My professors were definitely not used to this style of writing and it probably didn’t help out my grades, but it was completely worth it -- I practiced blogging enough to smoothly transition into my writing roles at my internships and, eventually, my first job.

If you’re not in school anymore, it can be hard to hunker down and write when you’ve already exhausted most of your mental energy at work. We all feel like turning off our brain and relaxing once the clock strikes five. 

But to master writing and eventually do it for a living, you need to write on a consistent basis. The best writers, like J.K. Rowling , all block off chunks of their schedule to write in solitude almost every day. 

If writing after work every day is a challenge for you, try only writing about your favorite topics. Your passion for these topics can pull you out of the post-work lull. If you need a little more help deciding what to write about, consider using a writing prompt generator like Plot Generator or Writing Exercises .

If you just started writing and you don’t know what to write about or even how to write, consider doing some copyworking . Copyworking is a common copywriting practice where you take an excerpt from your favorite author’s book (or any piece of writing you couldn’t stop reading) and transcribe it word for word. 

The method will help you internalize your favorite writer’s diction, syntax, cadence, voice, and structure, just like reading does. But you'll absorb even more insight than when you read because copyworking forces you to slow down and pay even closer attention to the nuances of great writing.

In the writing community, the majority of the best writers had talent to begin with. But they also had to work incredibly hard to sharpen their skills and separate themselves from the rest of their competition. By constantly writing, no matter how good or bad the quality was, and honing their skills through writing exercises, they all learned how to captivate audiences. And you could too.

Fight Through the Writing Blues

I applied for HubSpot’s inbound marketing internship two times when I was in college, and, I’ll be honest, my heart stung when my first application got rejected. Looking back, though, I’m glad I didn’t make the cut.

Getting rejected was what drove me to pursue two other content marketing internships and take two additional writing classes at school, which honed my writing skills and helped me accumulate enough writing samples to prove that I could be an intern at HubSpot the next year.

Clawing your way through the struggle and self-doubt that comes with writing  is exactly what you need to do to become a professional writer. It’s an arduous process, but it’s definitely worth it. And if you keep studying the craft and gleaning new insights, despite its highs and lows, you’ll start writing well enough to get hired.

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Sixty and Me

becoming a writer in retirement

Want to Make Extra Money in Retirement as a Freelance Writer? (Here’s a Better Idea)

Over the last 6 years, I have spent over $50,000 on freelance writing services. I have hired $100-per-hour specialists and $6 per hour transcribers. I have worked with some of these freelancers for so long that they feel like friends. Others have provided work so poor that I didn’t even bother to post it.

So, despite the fact that I have found other uses for my own writing skills, I feel qualified to comment on the state of the freelance writing space. And, despite the fact that I respect all of the freelance writers that I work with, the conclusion that I have come to is that, with only a few very specific exceptions, this is a soul-sucking line of work to be in.

To be 100% clear, it is not my intention to dissuade anyone from trying to make money from their writing. Quite the opposite! My intention is to persuade all of the talented writers out there to take a more holistic view of their talent. I want to help you avoid the disappointment of not being able to achieve your freelance writing dream.

So, let’s start why I believe that freelance writing is such a tough way to make a little extra money through your talent for words. Then, I’ll offer an alternative perspective on how to use your writing skills.

Is it Really Possible to Make Money as a Freelance Writer? The Supply Problem

When it comes to freelance writing, there is a dirty little secret that is hiding in plain sight. If you go to Upwork’s public website and search for “writing,” you will get a list of 446,000 freelancers.

Of these, guess what percentage have made at least $1 on the platform? 50%? 20%? 15%? Nope! If Upwork’s statistics are to be believed, only 11% of these writers have made more than $1.

How many have made over $1,000? About 7%!

The problem with freelance writing is that everyone thinks that they can do it. In addition, countless blogs, books and Instagram accounts feature stories of fabulously wealthy writers who spend their days sipping cocktails on the beach, while making $1,000s writing for other people.

Once again, I’m not saying that it’s not possible to make money as a freelance writer. I know several people who make $100,000’s a year in this way. But, these people are the exceptions to the rule. They have spent decades building up their client base, they are outstanding writers and they have found a niche (more on this later).

So, if being a freelance writer is so tough, should you just throw away your notebook and give up? Hardly! There are plenty of ways to make real money as a writer. None of these paths are easy, but, in my opinion, they are a heck of a lot more predictable (and profitable!) than putting your words in the hands of others.

Write for Your Own Audience on a Topic You Care About

The other day, I invited a woman to join our Sixty and Me guest writer program. I explained to her that we touched 50,000 women every day through our blog and social media channels and invited her to join the conversation.

Her response? “Thanks for the opportunity, but, I don’t write for free.”

When I took a second look at her website, I saw that she was telling the truth. Her own posts, released once per month, were mostly about her work as a writer. Because she saw her words as an asset to be auctioned, she didn’t even write for her own audience.

I’ve always wondered why freelance writers don’t spend more time… well, writing. It’s almost as if the very act of monetizing your work takes the fun out of putting your thoughts on paper.

My advice to people who want to make money as a writer is to take the exact opposite approach; find something that you care about and start writing about it. Start a blog. Write a book. Join a poetry club. Just write.

By now, you’re probably saying, “That’s all well and good… but, can you make money writing for your own audience?” Not true!

While the blogging space is just as crowded as the freelance writing space, there is plenty of room for specialization and innovation.

You don’t need to have an audience of millions of people to make a solid side income. If you have a sufficiently targeted niche with 1,000 visitors per day, you could probably make $200+ in advertising revenue per month and up to $600 from sponsored posts.

Now, $800 per month doesn’t seem like a lot of money for all that work, but, I can guarantee you that very few freelance writers are making this much. And, they also have to deal with the stress of having customers.

Of course, the bigger advantage of writing for yourself is that there is no upward limit on the revenue that you can make. If your writing takes off and your blog grows to 500,000 monthly visitors, you take all of that upside.

Make Your Writing a Hook for Your Consulting and Speaking Career

Another option that many writers have found profitable is to use their writing to launch their speaking or consulting career. Once again, the trick here is to pick something that you enjoy writing about and then, shock-of-all-shocks, actually write about it consistently!

Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself if you aren’t sure what to write about.

What activities do I love? Note: loving something is not enough. You also have to want to add value to others. But, for now, identifying your passions is a good place to start!

Which topics do people seek out my advice on?

What do my friends and family consider me to be an expert on?

What unique skills or experiences have I gained over the course of my life?

How do I want to make the world a better place?

What do I wish I could help other people to accomplish?

Obviously, this is an abbreviated list of questions. There are literally hundreds of ways to approach picking a topic to write about. The point is that writing with purpose is WAY more fun than writing for others… and it’s also more profitable!

Becoming a recognized subject matter expert is not a fast process. In the beginning, you may struggle to make any money at all. But, if you stick with it, over the course of months and years, people will start to seek you out. And this is where your new business as a consultant, speaker or author can really take off!

Write a Book… No, Seriously!

Right about now, I can hear you groaning. We all know that writing a book isn’t the short path to riches that people think it is. But, that’s not the point!

The point is that, if you are reading this article, you want to make money from your writing. The brutal truth is that ANY path that you can take as a writer is hard.

I’m not saying that writing a book is an easy or predictable way to make money. I’m simply saying that becoming an author is a better way to make money from your writing than being a freelance writer.

Here’s the thing. Like starting your own blog and becoming a subject matter expert, writing a book isn’t just about making money directly from your words; it is about standing out from the crowd. It is about shaping the world through your work. It is about putting value out into the world, not into someone else’s business.

To be 100% clear, I’m not saying that writing a 60-word, poorly researched “10 Tips for…” book is going to launch your career. These days, there is simply too much competition to stand out as an author (self-published or otherwise) unless you are willing to take the writing process seriously.

But, if you pour your heart into your work, you have a good chance of changing your life. Will your book make it onto the New York Times Best Seller List? No. And, I’d love you to prove me wrong on this by the way!

Could your book establish you as a credible writer who can attract top dollar for any paid writing work that she does? Absolutely! Could it make you come extra cash? Yes! Could it launch your speaking or consulting career? You bet!

If you don’t know where to get started with the ideas on this article, don’t worry! In the next few months, I am going to interview several experts who can help you to launch your writing business. For now, I just want you to believe in yourself enough to use your words for your own benefit.

And, if you still want to be a freelance writer, that’s ok too! I’ll be back with some advice on this topic soon!

Have you ever thought about making some extra money as a freelance writer, blogger or author in (or before) retirement? What is stopping you? What do you want to write about? Let’s have a chat!

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Sixty and Me

Sixty and Me

Sixty and Me is a community of over 500,000 women over 60 founded by Margaret Manning. Our editorial team publishes articles on lifestyle topics including fashion, dating, retirement and money.

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On Being A Writer

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the mind of a writer?  Today, I’m taking a short break from writing about retirement ( come back next week if that’s what you care about ).   I’m pulling back the curtain to my brain .  I’ll share why I love writing this blog, and how I go about it on a weekly basis. I hope you’ll enjoy my perspective on what Being A Writer means to me.  In the conclusion, I’ll make some application to your retirement and encourage you to find something which challenges you in the same way that writing challenges me.

It’s Time To Admit:  I Am A Writer.

becoming a writer in retirement

Side Note:   I’ve been “sitting” on this draft for months.  Why?  In short, it’s not my “typical” subject matter, and I was hesitant to publish something so far away from my normal “retirement” topic.  I didn’t want to turn off my readers , who come here to learn about retirement planning.  Today, I decided to take a chance.  If you don’t like the approach, feel free to come back next week (just don’t unsubscribe, please!).  I promise there are a LOT more retirement articles in my draft folder, and that topic will continue to be the focus on my blog.

If, however, you’ve ever been intrigued to know what’s inside my head , read on.

becoming a writer in retirement

In 3 1/2 years of writing on this blog, I’ve discovered that I love to write.  However, I’ve never written about how it feels to write.  “ On Being A Writer” shares my perspective on what it means to be a writer , and opens the curtains on how I go about writing posts for this site.

Today, some overdue words on being a writer.

A writer who is truly brilliant wrote a book about writing. His book captured my attention, and I couldn’t put it down.

becoming a writer in retirement

I devoured every word.

I’ll never pretend to be anywhere near the writer that Stephen King is, but his words have inspired me. 

He made me realize that I, too, am a writer.

He made me think about the process of writing, and what it is about the act of writing that I love.  Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, so I decided to flatter Mr. King and share my own thoughts on being a writer.

Writing is an art.  Just as painters all paint differently, writers all write differently.  The one thing we all have in common?

Writing At Its Core

It’s odd that all of you have the opportunity to read every word I’ve ever written, but none of you have actually been with me when I write .  What goes through my mind when I write?  How do I develop ideas for this blog?  How do I write?  I’m excited to share some insights on that topic.

Writing is, at its core, a creative act of communication.  

The communication of a thought, transmitted electronically, from my mind to yours.  All done via the power of the written word.  Pretty amazing when you stop to think about it.  Telepathy, in a sense ( telepathy is a theme I picked up in Stephen King’s book which I “connected” with ).  A thought from my head to yours, without a word being spoken.  Cool, right?

The power of the written word is something that’s been with us since the first coherent texts  were written back in 2600 BC.  Today, just like thousands of years ago, the written word is a powerful form in which the writer (me, in this case!) is able to communicate a thought the reader (you, in this case!).

I love the power of the written word.

Telepathic, indeed.

The Two Things I Love Most About Writing

First, I love the challenge of developing a thought into a cohesive idea.  The idea, once generated, must be developed into a concept, a story built on a foundation of words.  Most importantly, it must end as a finished product which is worthy of reading.

I’ll call this The Challenge of The Game .  Creating a thought, then putting it into words which stimulate, entertain, cause you to think and, ultimately, drive you to action.

Second , I love to connect with people and the feeling of making an impact in people’s lives.  I also love the blogging community and the hundreds of friends I have met through this passion project called The Retirement Manifesto.  I’ve decided to name this element The Power Of Connection .

Combined, these two elements of writing are what bring me joy as a writer.

Let’s look at each of them.

1.  The Challenge Of The Game

Imagine being a blogger, and trying to come up with an idea for your next post.  Ok, now build on that seed of an idea.  Find a way to weave it into a story.  Think about the outline.  Then, imagine sitting at your keyboard, and putting words to all of the ideas floating around in your brain.  Write it well, because thousands of readers will “hear” those words.

Repeat weekly.

That picture is my life as a writer.

becoming a writer in retirement

The game of writing is a challenging game.  It causes me to think.  It gives my (over) active mind something to ponder on throughout the day.  It’s food for my brain, and I love it.

If Stephen King’s theory of “writing as telepathy” is correct, you may be visualizing the process I outlined in the first paragraph of this section. You get a certain mental image about a situation by the words that you read.  It does seem a sort of telepathy, though I’d never thought of it that way until I read Mr. King’s “On Writing”.

The Challenge Of The Game is a perfect mental exercise for me in retirement.  If you’re looking for a way to challenge your mind, consider taking up writing.

1a.   Getting In The Flow

The greatest feeling as a writer is when you get “In The Flow”.   It happens frequently, and it’s a phenomenon that I love.  The Flow is a mental state where you no longer think about what you’re writing.  It’s almost as if the keyboard has a direct link to your brain.  You think, and it appears on your screen.  At times, you can’t type fast enough to keep up with your thoughts.  The Flow can become a flood.  Run with it.  And smile.

I learned early on to embrace The Flow.  Go with the current, and see where it takes you.  More often than not, I end up somewhere entirely different than where I had intended to go.  When you’re in The Flow, don’t edit.  Just write.  Let your brain cruise for as long as you can ride the wave (I’ve had The Flow last as long as an hour).

Write. Write.  Write.

Once the words are down, I take a break before I edit.  I typically spend more time editing than I do writing my first draft.  I never publish an article which I haven’t edited at least 3 times.  Try as I might, I’m still amazed how I often find an odd typo or two after I hit “publish”.  Frustrating, that.

But, The Flow.  Oh, The Flow.

It’s one of the true joys of writing.

2. The Power Of Connection

The second thing I most love about writing is The Power Of Connection.  One of the big changes that come with retirement is our connection to the outside world.  For decades, we’ve been interacting with folks on a daily basis in the workplace.  Human connection is a good thing, and it’s important to find a way to build and establish relationships in retirement.

For me, that connection comes from writing.

Helping People Achieve A Great Retirement isn’t just my byline.  It’s why I write.  I enjoy the satisfaction that comes from the many personal notes I get from you, the reader.  The stories you tell me about how my writing is making a difference in your life.  That is the fuel that runs my writing machine.

Sure, I love the process of writing, but I love the impact I’m making in people’s lives even more.

I’ve met many readers through the years, and I’ve felt connected to each and every one.  We share something in common, and it creates a strong connection.

The second form of connection comes through the blogging community.  The power of this community was an unexpected surprise early in my blogging career, and it’s a part of writing that I treasure.  I know hundreds of fellow bloggers, and I count many as good friends.  Each of us has a common bond, and it creates powerful friendships.

We’re here because we love to write.

Connection.

My Favorite Memories From Writing This Blog:

To close this post, I thought it’d be fun to share a few of my favorite memories from the past 3 1/2 years of writing this blog:

My Favorite Post:

I’ve written 240 posts to date, and I didn’t even hesitate when I thought about which have been my favorite to write.

From a personal perspective, the post I wrote as a tribute to my father means more to me than anything I’ve written.  In 18 Lessons I Learned From My Dad: A Tribute , I was able to share some insight on the man who means so much in my life.  We often fail to let those folks who mean the most to us know how we truly feel about them.  That post gave me the opportunity to let my Dad know how the things he had done through my life had positively influenced me, and it was my most rewarding post to write.

From a broader perspective, The Veteran is the post I’m most proud of.  To be able to pay back, in some small measure, for the service Don Mathews gave to this country was a rewarding moment.  Not only were the words a lot of fun to craft, but telling “The Back Story” behind that post gave me a chance to put into writing the best encounter I ever had in my 1 Million Miles of flying.  Thanks for your service, Don.  I’m glad we’ve become friends.

My Best Reader Interaction:

becoming a writer in retirement

Back in early 2017,  I received an email from a reader named Stan.  He mentioned that he was going to be in Atlanta and asked if I’d be interested in meeting up for lunch.  We met shortly after and had a great lunch together.  Turns out Stan is a Doctor who flies airplanes over forest fires as a hobby (if you want some great stories about dumping fire retardant over forest fires from an airplane, check out his blog at cafmustang.com ).

Stan isn’t the reason this was my favorite reader interaction, however.  That honor would come later when Stan told me the story of his Mom and Dad, who had nothing saved at Age 49 yet retired at Age 65.

That evening, I had an incredible phone call Stan’s Mom and Dad and wrote about the experience in  It’s Never Too Late . Thanks for that lunch, Stan.  Even more, thanks for introducing me to your Mom and Dad.  They’re wonderful people, and you’re a lucky son!

The Favorite Words I’ve Written:

I’ve written a LOT of words on this blog, and I thought it’d be fun to add a few of my favorites to this post.  These were the first that came to mind:

My Future As A Writer

When I started this blog back in April 2015, I had no idea where the journey would lead me.  I never expected that I would write an article every week for 3 1/2 years.   I never dreamed of the…

Of the Passion I would find.  

As I write these words in November 2018, I still have no idea where this journey will lead me.

I suspected my writing would slow a bit when I retired earlier this year.  It hasn’t.

I suspect my writing may slow a bit when we launch our Great American Road Trip in the summer of 2019 (stay tuned for details, we have BIG plans!!).  It might.

I’ve learned to enjoy the journey.  I’ve learned to Go With The Flow.  I’ve learned to not let a Passion become an Obligation (see 10 Commandments of Retirement ).  I make no promises that my weekly writing will continue uninterrupted.  My life is about so much more than writing, though writing has become an enjoyable part of it. I suspect I’ll continue to write, but one never knows where this journey will lead.

I appreciate all of you who have been on this journey with me, and I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s peek inside my head (comments, please?  The exchange in the comments is something I truly enjoy ).

As you plan for your retirement, explore areas that may provide a Purpose for your Life.  You never know what’s going to be a good fit, and that’s ok. Be open to exploration. I never expected writing would develop into the passion that it’s become, but I found it because I was willing to explore.  I’m lucky to have found something that checks three of the critical boxes for a great retirement:

One Thing Is Certain:  I love to write.

I Am A Writer.

40 comments

I’ve been waiting for my library to get the Stephen King book in for a while now. I may just have to break down and buy a copy, but everyone who has read it said it is awesome.

And the flow state, you are correct sir. When it happens it is indeed really amazing and I to find that I cannot type nearly fast enough to get the words down. The problem is it doesn’t happen to me all that often 😉

Nothing better than being so deeply in The Flow that you can’t get the words down, right!?

This was excellent! What a great piece on writing, as an author I felt my head nodding along with each paragraph as if to say, “yes, yes, YES!” I can’t wait to read more of what you have to share!

3 Yes’s? I guess I hit the mark! Great comment from a fellow writer, thanks for taking the time to “write” it!

I must admit Fritz, when you said we get to look inside your head, your brain, your thinking process, I was TERRIFIED! I thought I’d see a rainbow of colors, all intertwined amongst brambles of grapevines and cobwebs, not to mention a few loose nuts and bolts rattling around. Your brain is a complex thing. Always thinking. Always analyzing. Always on the go. It’s a beautiful thing. Yes, writing is an art. It is your way of creating. Mine, is the actual “artsy” stuff – decorating, creating displays. I like to think of it as a visual feast for the eyes. Your creativity is a feast for getting people to engage in their own thought provoking process. Keep it up Fritz. I highly encourage everyone to delve into their own creative outlet.

I enjoy nothing better than terrifying my sister. Always have, always will. Most, wink.

Nice article…and nice to be featured!

I do love to write…but finding the time is difficult. I admire that you have done so….and done it consistently!

Stan!! My favorite reader interaction, here with his personal electrons!! I truly enjoyed our lunch, Stan (and your Parents, tell them I said “Hi!”). Let’s get together again if you’re ever up in the N. GA mountains. No offense, but I don’t think I’ll be spending much time in Atlanta now that I’m retired!

I’ve heard of On Writing and it’s been on the back burner for a while. Thanks for the reminder. I just reserved it at the library and should get it soon. That’s the advantage of living in a good size city. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience with writing. I enjoy writing, but I’m not sure if it’s really my passion. I never liked it when I was young. However, writing is a lot more enjoyable since I became a blogger. Autonomy makes all the difference. I’ll keep at it while I still enjoy it. We’ll see where it goes. Hopefully, I’ll keep at it for 10 more years. Will you make it to Portland? I’d love to meet you in person.

Glad I moved it off the back burner, it was starting to burn back there…

We’re plotting The Great American Road Trip now, if we end up coming through Portland I’ll be sure to look you up! If not, I’m also planning on being at FinCon19. Either way, we’ll meet up somewhere in 2019, and I look forward to it!

240 posts? Not too shabby! I love that you’ve got so many ideas stored in that vault (I mean brain) of yours. Keep ’em coming!

Flow is the hardest part. That your flow “flows” so easily is a blessing. I’ve really enjoyed your words these past few years — and your friendship, of course.

Talk soon? Have a great Thanksgiving if not before then.

As my sister says above, my brain is a complex thing, always on the go. Terrifying thing, indeed, though helpful to keep the hopper of potential posts always topped off!

We do need to reconnect soon, I always enjoy chatting with you and Mr. G. We’re heading to Seattle for 2 1/2 weeks over Thanksgiving for the birth of our grandchild, can’t wait! I’ll send you an email to coordinate schedules for a call!

I too love the tribute to your dad. Keep writing!

So do I. And, I plan to! Wink.

Your writing inspired me to start my blog. I only post about once a month, because I am “freeployed” (my new word for retiring early). The flow you are talking about comes to me during art projects, but so far writing is really, really hard! I sure admire your ability. In fact, I think that by trying to write, I have much more appreciation for good writing. It’s one of the things that I truly enjoy about discovering and trying new things.

The connection to this community of people is the best part. In a world that is often divisive, I find that the people I’ve met in person or online are so supportive, enthusiastic and inspiring. Like you!

Inspiring someone to start a blog is an amazing statement. I’m honored, Susan. I’m glad you mentioned how our little online community of bloggers is so encouraging, one of the few places I’ve found in our society today that lacks the divisiveness that’s so prevalent elsewhere.

I am sure you wrote up reports for your previous career, but it is in your DNA!!

Ironic you mention the DNA, AR. Both my Dad and Granddad were writers, perhaps it really IS in my DNA! I’m proud to carry on the legacy of writers in the Gilbert family!

I think what stands out is your discipline. 240 posts in 3.5 years = 5.7 /month is quite something. I get bogged down because I have nothing original to say.

That, and discipline.

Thanks for recognizing my commitment to the consistent writing, gofi. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m pleased with the results!

This was very timely for me. I am not a writer but I am a reader and would like to be a writer. I do find the flow at times when writing for work. Outlining my ideas for a new project or taling about strategic needs I just let it go and come back later. I am doing my final reviews of all my direct reports in preperation for a change in leadership on Friday. Almost all of these coworkers have worked with me for over 20 years. All have asked the same question, “What’s next for you?” I let them know that I am looking for my next passion and will let them know when I find it. Maybe it is time to see if I can put something on paper, or actually electrons. I plan on a lot of Alaskan adventures over the next 3 to 5 years so perhaps I can get some of those down, at least for family and friends. It also looks like I have a new book to read, Thanks for the info. Great job on your posts and keep them coming as often as makes you happy. 15 days and counting.

Ken, it sounds like you’re exactly where I was 3 1/2 years ago when I started this blog. It’s time to get started… (Keep me posted, I’ll definitely check out your blog when you start it. I’m thinking something like “Alaskan Wild FIRE”…Good luck!). And, good luck with that change of leadership, always disruptive, I know.

Great post! I too am a writer and blogger who has love Stephen King’s book. I subscribed to your blog a while back as my husband and I are Rehearsing Retirement (TM) and I’ve started a blog about the process. Really appreciate your insight and wisdom. Blessings!

A kindred spirit, indeed. Thanks for joining The Retirement Manifesto Team, and best of luck with your blog!

Thank you! Your blog is an inspiration! 🙂

Getting in “the flow” is very similar to getting in “the zone” as a programmer at my day job. They call it The Zone for some reason. The productivity skyrockets, however, I find it hard to get there as I need an uninterrupted chunk of time in a quiet place.

If you ask other software engineers they will tell you the same thing. It usually takes 20 mins to get there and hopefully, it will last more than an hour if you’re not interrupted. But oh boy, is it worth it.

The blog is now a big part of my life and I also appreciate when people send me e-mails to just thank me for the content. Keep up the good work Fritz, and thanks for reminding us the benefits of writing 🙂

Greetings from London!

Gotta love those international readers!! Thanks for stopping by. BTW, you may be interested in my story about swimming in London, if you haven’t seen it: Achieving A Dream (about a November swim in The Serpentine). I’ve traveled to London quite a few times on biz (before I retired!!), always enjoyed spending time there.

Wow… I just read that. Are You Crazy??? 🙂

Apparently, there are health benefits in having cold showers at home… A friend is trying to convince me but I haven’t given in yet!

This, my good sir, is why I’m an English teacher. I tell the kids that English is the most important subject, because we teach people how to communicate effectively. At the beginning of every lesson I have the kids either read or write silently for 10 minutes – their choice of which activity to do. They LOVE it. It’s probably the only time of the day that they get unstructured time to do whatever THEY want to do. The creativity is amazing.

GREAT way to start your lessons! You sound like a great teacher!!

I absolutely love the post. I can relate on so many levels to “The Flow”, particularly where you said sometimes it seems you can’t type fast enough to get the ideas out of your brain onto the page. I’ve considered dictation for that reason, but remain faithfully with just my keyboard. Even though I can clock out at 120-130wpm while typing, when you’re in “The Flow”, there’s no speed that can keep up with the mind. I’ve added “On Writing” by King to my list of books for Christmas. It actually filled out the final spot (I knew I needed just one more and this is exactly what I was looking for). Great to see into your mind. Maybe one of these days I’ll write a similar post to give readers a look into mine as well.

Take care, Ryan

“There’s no speed that can keep up with the mind”. Ah, someone who truly understands The Flow! Thanks for stopping by, and looking into my mind. I look forward to seeing inside yours when you write that post!

Great post. I retweeted this. I have been a professional writer for over 30 years. I love putting one word after another. That’s why I moved to fulltime writing and blogging on financial stuff, and left my paycheque behind, ha.

As I wrote in that retweet, the most important aspect, for a writer, might be knowing what to leave out.

Thanks for your retweet, and the nice things you said about my blog on Twitter! Much appreciated!! S. King spent quite a bit of time talking about reducing what you write, you should always delete, not add, when editing. Good advice (I tend to get long winded, but have learned to go with it and try to edit it down after the fact. Still a work in progress…).

I have the book right in front of me. Now, I just need to start reading. 😀 Hope to see you in Portland next year. ps. I hate your recaptcha plugin.

Fritz, This post is a gift. Not only for what you wrote, but for the On Writing book recommendation. The book is a great read not only for the writing advice but the story King weaves through it. I went from respecting him to loving the man. In re-reading your previous posts its clear its clear how important the book was to you. FYI – I’m 61 and I’ve just started the Khan Academy grammar course 🙂 Thanks again and thanks for all you do for your readers. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Shortly after I started my blog, I moved. In the moving process, I went through my stuff and came across stories, journals, and poetry that were like 30+ years old. I realized I was born to write!

Blogging helps me formulate my thoughts into a cohesive manner and I believe it also helps me verbally communicate more effectively.

I love the flow. Editing – not so much but is so necessary and as you said, it takes multiple edits.

You definitely are a writer! Keep it up & I’ll keep coming back.

Great post Fritz, I love that it comes from the heart. You are a writer, there is no doubt about it! I get the impression you were smiling the entire time you were writing this post. Keep it up!!

Look forward to use the various ideas that you have written

Comments are closed.

Writers Work Blog

Photo of a woman working on a laptop at a kitchen counter.

Are you looking to launch a second career? If so, you’re not alone. For millions of people around the world, retirement is no longer the end of working. If you’ve always dreamed of becoming a professional writer, your retirement years could be the perfect time to make that happen. Even if you haven’t retired yet, it’s never too soon to start thinking about how you could turn freelancing into a lucrative second career once you have the time.

If freelancing is new to you, however, you probably have plenty of questions about how it works—and how you can break into it. Here is the information you need to ensure that you start off your second career on the right foot.

Am I good enough to be a professional writer?

This is probably the most common question that first-time freelance writers have. The answer is: As long as you’re willing to work to improve your writing, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to turn it into a career. Nobody is born a great writer, and even experienced professionals are continually working to hone their writing and learn new skills. If you have a strong grasp of basic English skills, you have everything you need to start becoming a better writer.

What type of jobs should I look for?

There is no one right answer to this—you can write about anything you like! If you’re completely new to professional writing, however, you may feel most confident writing about areas that you already know well. Consider the experience you gained from your previous career. If you have expertise in a field such as computers or library science, you can put this to good use. Clients are looking for writers with this kind of experience, so make sure you mention it prominently when you create your portfolio. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to learn new things! Use the extra time you’ve been given by your retirement to become an expert on the subjects that interest you.

What types of writing are best to start with?

When you start searching for writing jobs, you’ll immediately notice that they tend to fall into several common categories. For freelance work, the most common types of writing include blogging, copywriting, technical writing, ghostwriting, social media posts, and press releases. It’s a good idea to study examples of all of these types of writing, and practice them on your own before you attempt to write them professionally. Don’t rush! If you’re a beginner, taking the time to hone your writing is a must. You can master any type of writing, but you will need to give yourself the time and opportunity to do it.

How often should I write?

If you’re serious about writing as a new career, you should try to spend some time writing every day. Practicing your writing is the only way to get better, and getting into the habit of doing it daily will help you get into the appropriate mindset for regular freelance writing. Even if you don’t have any current assignments to work on for clients, you should spend as much time as possible working at your writing, developing new story ideas, and trying to advance your career.

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How can I get noticed?

When you’re just getting started, it’s easy to feel as if nobody is paying attention to your work. That’s why it’s so important to use the best tools available to increase your visibility as a writer. Starting a blog on a platform such as WordPress is a good excuse to start writing every day, and it provides you with links so you can share your work. If you don’t already have accounts on social media, it’s time to join LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter and start promoting your work. Every time you get an article published or a new blog post up, be sure to repost or link to it on your social media pages. You can also use social media to network with other writers, influencers, and even potential clients. The more effectively you brand yourself, the easier it will be for you to find writing jobs.

How much can I expect to make?

The amount of money you can expect to make as a freelance writer depends on a number of factors, including how much experience you have, what type of writing you are doing, and time and energy you are able to put into your new career. When you’re just getting started, it may be best to think about freelancing as a supplemental income, since it can take some time to build up momentum and begin making more money from your writing. The more clients you find and the more articles you have published, however, the more confident you are likely to become about your prospects!

How big a workload should I take on?

If you’re retired, it’s likely that you have a reasonable amount of time on your hands every day, so you’re better equipped to take on multiple projects than a freelancer who is balancing writing with a day job. It’s important, however, not to overburden yourself with obligations that you won’t be able to meet. When you’re just getting started, it’s best to start off slow and gradually build your way up to the point where you’re taking on more than one project at a time. That way, you can be sure that you won’t find yourself struggling to meet deadlines and turning out substandard work. Once you have a sense of what your natural work pace is and how much time it takes you to complete each project, you can begin steadily increasing your workload.

Are you looking to launch yourself into the exciting world of freelance writing? If so, let Writers Work be your guide. We have assembled a host of useful resources for aspiring freelancers, including our handy job finding engines and a series of informative videos! If you’ve always wondered if you had what it takes to be a successful freelance writer, it’s time to join our writers’ community. You can discover us for yourself by going to our website and checking out our introductory video.

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Have you retired but miss the times when you were busy with work? There is a solution for retirees like you. You can choose a new career path and become a freelance writer. 

Just think about it. You will work from home (or any other place you like) and have a flexible schedule. You will uncover your true potential and bring your skills to use. On top of that, you will make some extra money and get an opportunity to meet new interesting people online.

Sounds like a good idea to you?

Here are seven tips that will help you to launch your new career.

Be aware of your weaknesses and strengths

If you want to get a freelance writing job, you should know your worth. You should be aware of your weaknesses and strengths. It will allow you to present yourself to your prospective clients in the best possible way.

What can you do better than younger writers? Firstly, you should understand that you have more professional and life experience than the vast majority of modern freelancers, and that allows you to write more complete copies. Secondly, you are more attentive to details. You don’t get distracted by social media notifications and other things while working on your writing task. It means you can create copies of better quality.

Now let’s talk about the things you are not that good at. As a retiree, you are likely to work more slowly than younger freelance writers do. And the chances are it takes you more time to learn how to use new tools and services.  

So how should you present yourself to get a freelance job? You should put emphasis on your experience and high writing quality. Also, it will be wise of you to apply only for non-urgent projects.

Start with learning the basics

What did you do before retirement? What field did you work in?

If you have never worked as a writer before, we highly suggest you learn the basics first. For instance, you can visit websites that focus on academic writing for college and grad students to get acquainted with the fundamental principles of writing. You can also enroll in online writing courses on educational platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and SkillShare.

Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help

Do you need someone to explain how to use AI-powered writing tools to you? Do you need someone to help you to set up a profile on a freelancing platform? Don’t feel ashamed to ask your kids, grandkids, or your neighbor’s kids to assist you.

You helped your kids and your neighbors million times. Now, it’s time for them to pay you back. Call them today and ask them to assist you with a few simple tasks.

Don’t be afraid to try something new

Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from becoming a successful freelance writer. Be open to experiments in writing, and don’t be afraid to try out different editing and proofreading tools.

For instance, if your daughter recommends you to start using a writing service like GetGoodGrade , or a proofreading tool like Grammarly, go for it. Well, it may take you some time to figure out how these tools work. But once you understand how you can use these tools, you will boost your productivity as a freelance writer. 

Start small

To succeed in freelancing, one needs to build an outstanding portfolio and get lots of positive reviews from clients. 

So don’t expect that you will become a successful freelancer writer overnight. 

It’s challenging for newbie freelancers of any age to land the first project after the account setup. The best strategy for newbies is to apply for low paid jobs first. You will not make big money in a first month or two, but it will allow you to collect enough reviews to kickstart your freelance career.

Don’t listen to what other people say

Unfortunately, not all people who surround us are ready to support us in our new beginnings. Thus, we should focus on what is important to us and don’t take the negative words of our family and friends seriously.

If someone says that “you’re too old to start a new career” or “you don’t have outstanding writing skills,” – just ignore them. You can achieve whatever you want in your life. 

Don’t let other people hold you back from accomplishing your goal. Remember that the only reason why these people don’t support you is that they gave up their dreams, and they don’t want other people to achieve success because it makes them feel miserable.

Get connected with like-minded people 

You are not the only retiree in the world who wants to become a freelance writer. There are many people of your age out there who have chosen the same after-retirement career path. You can connect with them via Facebook, blogs, and forums to discuss different aspects of freelance writing and get the support you need.  

Freelance writing can turn your retirement life into an exciting journey full of new opportunities. 

Even if you are unsure whether you want to become a freelance writer, give it a try. You will never know whether you will like it until you try it.

We wish you good luck! And remember that if you feel enthusiastic about this goal, you can accomplish it!

Author’s bio. Jessica Fender is a professional writer and educational blogger. Jessica enjoys sharing her ideas to make writing and learning fun.

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How to Become a Writer: A Guide

Lindsay Kramer

So you want to be a writer. Awesome choice, if we do say so ourselves. 

But now you might find yourself wondering how to be a writer. Is a writer simply somebody who writes, or is there more to it? How much writing do you need to do before you can officially call yourself a writer? Do you need to get paid for your work in order to earn that title? Does it need to be published somewhere? 

Give your writing extra polish Grammarly helps you communicate the way you intend. Write with Grammarly

The answer to all of the questions above is no. As long as you’re writing, you’re a writer. Even if it takes ten years to get your first book published, you’ve been a writer since you sketched out your very first book outline. And although writing a book is one way to become a professional writer, it’s hardly the only way. Read on to learn more about the different writing careers you can pursue and how to get started. 

Determine the kind of writer you want to be

Writers fall into two very broad categories: writers who write simply for personal enjoyment and writers who write professionally. Many, perhaps even most, professional writers also write for fun and personal fulfillment—but not every writer who does it as a hobby also does it for a living. 

If you’ve determined you want to become a professional writer, there are a lot of different career paths to choose from. Take a look at a few of the most common career paths for writers:

Copywriters write the taglines, product descriptions, ads, and other short, emotion-packed bits of writing (known in the biz as “copy”) that drive people to take specific actions. Within this field, there are lots of specializations, like direct response copywriting, email copywriting, SEO copywriting, marketing copywriting, and brand copywriting. While plenty of copywriters are employed full-time, plenty more work for themselves, taking clients on a freelance basis. 

Beyond these specializations, copywriters typically focus on specific industries, like the medical industry, arts and entertainment, SAAS, pets, subscription services, and more—basically, any industry you can think of employs copywriters.  

According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for copywriters in the United States is $57,864.*

Content writer

The blog post you’re reading right now was written by a content writer. In fact, all the content you’ve ever read on a website, like how-to guides, informational articles, and the text on infographics, was written by content writers. Even the ads you’ve watched on TV come from content writers—after all, somebody has to write the scripts.  

Bloggers fall into the category of “content writer.” Just like copywriters, content writers typically specialize in one or a few specific industries. And just like copywriters, they can work in-house or freelance. 

According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for content writers in the United States is $47,233. 

Technical writer

Technical writers create documentation that teaches people how to use applications and tech equipment. They do this by writing instruction manuals, how-to guides, articles, and product guides. They write similar kinds of material as content writers, but the difference is that while content writers generally aim to engage readers, often as part of broader marketing strategies, technical writers write to explain how a product or system works. 

A technical writer’s work needs to be highly detailed and leave no room for misinterpretation or error. It’s fairly common, but not necessarily universal, for technical writers to have degrees or other formal training in STEM fields. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for technical writers was $74,650 per year in 2020.

Communications officer

A communications officer acts as the spokesperson for a brand or another organization, publishing content like press releases and responding to media inquiries. Communications officers are sometimes referred to as public relations specialists or communications specialists. 

According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for a communications officer is $57,896.

Journalists write timely news stories. A career in journalism requires more than writing skills; it requires strong research and interviewing skills, too. Journalists work in a variety of settings, from online outlets to radio and television to print publications. 

According to Payscale, the average annual salary for journalists in the US is $41,624.

Grant writer

A grant writer—also known as a proposal writer—researches, writes, and submits grant requests on behalf of individuals and organizations seeking funding. Generally, this role involves finding specific grants and determining whether they’re appropriate for the organization seeking them. It can also involve acting as a liaison between the funding provider and recipient. 

According to salary.com, the median salary for grant writers in the US is $72,645.

Columnists write and publish short essays from their personal points of view. Their publication platforms are known as “columns” and can be found in newspapers, magazines, and online. Often, a column covers news and evergreen topics within one specific area, like cryptocurrency or fashion design, and the columnist writing it has some sort of credential to write authoritatively on that subject—like a lengthy career as a crypto trader or an MFA in fashion design. 

According to salary.com, the average annual salary for columnists in the US is $66,725.

When you say “I’m a writer,” most people’s minds automatically jump to authors, as in published book authors.

For authors, it’s close to impossible to list an accurate annual salary. For every mega-bestselling author who rakes in millions, there are thousands of other authors sporadically publishing in literary magazines for a few hundred dollars per story. Even authors who publish books regularly and semi-regularly have wildly varying incomes, with the average coming in at $51,103 per year according to Payscale . If you’re considering the author path, the reality is that you’ll most likely need to work a full-time job while writing and publishing on the side. This is true whether you plan on pursuing traditional publishing or self-publishing, both of which have unique benefits and challenges for writers. 

>>Read More: How to Write a Book

If your primary focus is poetry, you’d refer to yourself as a poet. Similar to authors, poets’ incomes vary widely and typically, writing poetry is more of a monetized hobby than a full-time job. That said, there are commercial opportunities for poets, like writing for greeting card companies, but these are often on a freelance basis. 

Create realistic goals and expectations

The reality is this: You’re not likely to sit down and bang out a bestseller on the first try. Similarly, you’re not guaranteed to pitch a bunch of articles to websites and get them all accepted with no prior experience. Like every other pursuit, a writing career is something you cultivate and nurture over time. 

When you’re first starting out, set realistic goals for yourself. Maybe you want to become a full-time blogger . Choose a platform, set up your blog, and start publishing posts, giving yourself a reasonable but consistent schedule like one or two posts per week. Or maybe you’ve decided you want to give copywriting a shot. Some realistic starting points for an aspiring copywriter include listening to podcasts like The Copywriter Club and Copy Chief Radio , researching different areas of specialization, and applying for entry-level copywriting jobs and internships. You could even reach out to an already established copywriter for an informational interview .

The more you write and try out different kinds of writing, the better you’ll get to know yourself as a writer. Maybe you’ll find that you’re at your best when you’re working under a tight deadline and you have to focus on nothing but the work in front of you. Or you might find that’s the complete opposite of your style and you need lots of time to be able to write at a comfortable pace. Maybe writing is the creative outlet you need after spending the day at a boring desk job—or your best ideas come to you in the middle of the night. 

There are lots of different types of writers , and nobody fits neatly into one box or another. But taking the time to determine which type of writer you can primarily classify yourself as can help you identify your strengths and areas of opportunity. If you’re planning to pursue writing as a career, it can also help you determine which kind of writing career suits you best. A meticulous plotter, for example, can find a ton of success as a technical writer, but they might not have the spontaneity necessary to make it as a direct response copywriter. Similarly, an idea generator can be their blogging client’s best-kept secret, but they might not make a great grant writer. 

Work with the tools writers use

There are a lot of apps and other tools available to help you organize your writing, take notes on the go, write faster, and make sure your work is free of mistakes (hint hint: there’s one that starts with a G and ends with “rammarly”). 

Explore these tools and if you plan on going into a specific writing-focused career field, familiarize yourself with the tools writers in that industry use most frequently. A few of the most common tools professional and hobby writers use are:

There are more tools and resources available for you—a lot more. Many of them are specific to certain kinds of writing, like Yoast, which is a search engine optimization (SEO) plug-in. 

Become a regular reader

You’ve probably been told that if you want to be a writer, you need to be a reader. And it’s true—just like listening to a variety of music is key to being a skilled musician, reading lots of different kinds of writing will help you become a stronger writer. 

Don’t just read the kind of writing you want to do; read about writing. Here are a few great books for learning about different types of writing and the craft of writing:

Other valuable resources for writers include blogs and social media groups about writing. Reading doesn’t have to be a formal, sit-down-and-don’t-get-up-until-you’ve-finished-the-chapter kind of thing; you can easily get some valuable reading in by scrolling the r/writing subreddit or another forum for writers while you’re standing in line at the store, sitting on the bus, or on your work breaks. 

Common questions about becoming a writer

Do you need a degree to be a writer.

Not necessarily. But it can help, and if you’re looking for full-time writing jobs, a degree may be required. 

Common degrees to pursue if you want to be a writer include English, journalism, and communications. It also isn’t uncommon for a professional writer to have a degree in another area and focus their career on writing in that niche. For example, you might have a degree in economics and decide you’d like to become a finance journalist. 

Advanced degrees and beyond

Just like you don’t need a bachelor’s degree to become a writer, you don’t need an advanced degree—in most cases. As you search for writing jobs, you’ll likely come across listings for higher-level positions that do require advanced degrees. Usually, these listings are for candidates with highly specialized knowledge in one area, like a listing for a legal writer requiring that all applicants have a JD. But do you need an MFA in Creative Writing to publish your novel? Of course not!

Do I really need to write every day?

You’ve probably heard that if you want to be a professional writer, you need to write every day. What this advice really boils down to is practice makes perfect. You don’t necessarily have to write every single day, but carving out a block of time to focus on your writing regularly will help you become a stronger writer. 

Where can I connect with other writers?

For a lot of writers, being part of a writing community is important. This is especially true if you go the freelance route—it’s always helpful to have peers you can bounce ideas off and ask for advice. 

You can find lots of writing communities on social media as well as other places online. Some are free and open to everybody, while others are industry- and niche-specific and may require membership dues. You can also find in-person writing groups through platforms like meetup.com. 

Become a better writer instantly

As Hemingway said, good writing is rewriting. But before you can rewrite your work, you need to know where you made mistakes and where you can make changes to make your writing stronger. Grammarly can help with that. 

No matter what kind of writing you’re doing, Grammarly catches issues with punctuation, grammar and syntax mistakes, and tone inconsistencies. This way, your writing doesn’t just shine but also helps you reach your goals—whether that’s to teach your reader something, to convey important information, or to make them feel something deeply. 

*All salaries cited in this article were the averages at the time of this article’s original publication unless noted otherwise.

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How to Become a Writer as a Second Career

by Brie Reynolds | Feb 20, 2015

How to Become a Writer as a Second Career

When you entertain the idea of being a writer , it’s sometimes difficult to know where to begin.

If you’ve done something else with your career up to this point, how can you use that experience and expertise to find writing jobs ? How can you become a writer ?

I spoke with two professionals, accomplished in their own careers, who’ve turned their interest in writing into more than a hobby.

Angela Weiler, the public services librarian at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York, has been a librarian for almost 20 years, but didn’t begin writing novels until her early 40s. Her first, a novel in stories called Going Up the Country , was published in 2005 by Log Cabin Books. She self-published Flashpoint in 2014.

Kristen Lutz, a massage therapist in Boston, Massachusetts, also loved writing from an early age but only started writing professionally a few years ago. She’s now the director of communications for the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Foundation (Mass AMTA), a part-time position where she’s responsible for writing, editing and publishing its newsletter and blog.

From their experiences, and my own, here are six tips for using your career expertise to land writing jobs .

1. Understand your motivations and how far you want to take them

Like many of us, Angela enjoyed writing from a young age, but until her 40s, she considered it to be a hobby. “It was a mid-life realization. I’d always had a folder in my file cabinet labeled ‘ideas’ but I didn’t start actually writing until I was in my early 40s.”

For both Angela and Kristen, turning writing into more than a hobby took time . Once they both decided to make time to write , they knew they were on the right track.

“I started setting aside weekend mornings to write for two to four hours at a time. I didn’t work at it a lot, but I worked at it very steadily,” said Angela. Kristen made the time to write when she realized starting a blog would help her health coaching clients.

So, what’s your motivation to write? Have you already started devoting time regularly to writing? And how far are you willing or interested in taking it? If you’re ready to write professionally , either part-time or full-time, it’s time for the next step.

2. Learn about all the different types of writing you can do

Fiction or nonfiction? Long or short form? Books, blogs, articles, newsletters or social media? Thanks to the proliferation of written media on the Internet, a huge variety of writing opportunities exist. Which ones are right for you?

One of the best ways to learn about different types of writing opportunities is to read. “Read everything! Read within your genre, outside of your genre, find voices that you like, and learn from reading others’ work,” said Angela.

Kristen agreed, and also recommended practicing editing other people’s content. “Editing other content is super helpful for two reasons. One, it’s an ego-booster for my own writing when someone else’s writing style is horrible. Two, I pick up on new ways to write.”

3. Look for ways to write at your current job

One of the biggest obstacles for people interested in writing is finding those first writing gigs . Kristen’s first writing job came when she was a health coach.

“My interest in writing while I was a health coach came from a need to better serve my clients. We needed a way to increase accountability for their goals, so I created a blog,” she said. “With access to the blog, my clients could virtually touch base with me and have key health coaching components repeated to them by way of my posts, sharing of news articles, exercises or healthy recipes. It became a way to continue our conversation past our session time.”

If you can find an excuse to write in your current job , ask for it! The best part about this approach is you don’t have to hunt for a writing job — if you can work it into your current role, you’ll get paid for it and gain writing experience.

4. Use your career expertise

If you’re trying to use your career experience to land writing jobs, become an expert and brand yourself as such.

I was hired as a writer because of my work in career development and job search advice. Kristen was hired as a writer because of her knowledge of health coaching and massage therapy. And, in addition to creative writing, Angela reviews books and peer-reviews articles for journals because of her experience as a librarian.

“These opportunities came through my work as a librarian. I do peer review for research projects, and book reviews as well, mainly for nonfiction. Once you get a few of these experiences on your resume, more opportunities tend to pop up,” said Angela.

Having solid writing skills is only one part of becoming a writer. Kristen found her current role as director of communication for Mass AMTA because she’d already started sharing her expertise by writing blog posts with massage-related organizations.

“The former director commented that I was a natural writer and wanted me to get more involved in the chapter’s communications department. I was offered the newsletter editor position and later transitioned to take over the director position. All of that happened within a year,” she explained. Without offering ourselves up as experts in a certain field, how will others find out about us?

5. Build your network and brand yourself as a writer

When I was a college career advisor, I created and wrote my own blog about career advice just for fun. It was a nice outlet, giving me a chance to practice writing in a risk-free environment.

However, a friend’s girlfriend had just been hired at a lifestyle website for college students and young professionals, and the company was in the market for a career advice blogger. Even though my blog was really only a hobby, it was enough to get me hired. She read my articles, thought I’d be a great fit, and voila, I’d found my first paid writing job.

Building your network is one thing, but you also need to let that network know you’re available as a writer. All of your social media profiles should mention something about you as a writer. Use LinkedIn , About.me , Content.ly or an online portfolio to showcase your previous and current work, whether paid or unpaid.

Also, figure out rates for your work. If you’re asked up front how much you charge for writing services, know how to answer!

6. Look for writing jobs

This is probably the most obvious tip in the bunch, but if you want to be hired as a writer, look for writing jobs .

“ Reach out to your industry’s professional organizations and see if they need guest bloggers, or become involved in some of their local activities ,” recommended Kristen. If you’re positioning yourself as a writer within a certain field, look for writing jobs within that profession.

Many great niche sites can help you find freelance or part-time writing jobs , so if you want to keep your current profession and write on the side (as many, if not most, writers do), the opportunities are out there.

When searching job boards, expand your search keywords to include job titles like copywriter, research writer, community manager, reporter, editor, content writer, freelance contributor, blogger, journalist and guide.

Your previous experience counts

If you’ve decided you want to be a writer, you don’t need to chuck your career out the window. Instead, use your expertise and knowledge to help you find writing jobs.

Start writing to hone your voice, grow your network and brand yourself as a writer, and put yourself out there by applying to writing jobs. But first and foremost, realize that your career up to this point isn’t a waste — it’s an asset.

Have you successfully used your career experience to find writing work?

If you’re exploring other writing careers, check out this article, where you’ll find more options to get paid as a writer .

Perhaps this quiz can help you decide.

Want to write a book, but no idea where to start?

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Do Writers Really Retire?

becoming a writer in retirement

By Ian Crouch

Do Writers Really Retire

The recent PBS documentary “Philip Roth: Unmasked” buried the lede, as the expression goes—so deeply, in fact, as to not mention at all the most pertinent bit of news about its subject: Philip Roth has retired from writing . One of the filmmakers, Livia Manera, speaking to the Random House blog Word and Film, explained the decision to leave it out:

Honestly … do you know many former writers? Is that a category that exists? If you want my opinion, he has given up something. He’s given up the obligation to write and this is an obligation, very powerful, he had with himself, first of all. And this did change his life and made him much more available and made life easier for him … But it’s one thing to stop feeling the obligation to write and another thing to never write another line again. I just don’t believe it.

Manera asks a good question: Can a novelist retire? Do retired novelists exist, like retired accountants? It does seem unusual, as odd for a writer to be in retirement from words as for a man to be, as William H. Gass once wrote, “in retirement from love.” (Gass, meanwhile, has a new novel out. He’s eighty-eight.) And her skepticism seems warranted, though Roth’s declaration is not unprecedented. Anne Tyler has said that her twentieth novel will not appear in her lifetime—as she recently told the BBC , “I said that I want to not ever finish a book again. I’m seventy-one years old, and theoretically I could just go on writing it and writing it, and then when I die, if it’s good it can be published and if it’s not I’ll never know.” But then, realizing the limits of her interest in the family she’d invented as her subject, Tyler now concedes that the book will likely be published rather soon, hopefully while she is still alive. Tyler’s proposed retirement was not from writing, exactly, but from publishing. Even J. D. Salinger, that notorious early retiree, is said to have gone on writing. But the way Tyler speaks of her next book sounds wistful, so perhaps it will be her last: “I’m beginning to see that eventually I’ll finish this novel. I figure, another couple of years—I’m just trying to make it last as long as I can.”

Tyler’s description of writing, as a delaying of various days of reckoning that come with publication, is haunted a bit with that other, final day of reckoning. Writing, retirement, death: they are connected, and, mostly, a writer’s only real retirement occurs at his or her death. In the poem “Writers Writing Dying,” C. K. Williams, who is seventy-six, offers what might be an ironical creed for aging authors: “Think, write, write, think: just keep running faster and you won’t even notice / you’re dead.” And later, he writes: “Such fun to wake up though! Such fun too if you don’t! Keep dying! Keep / writing it down!”

Last year, Gabriel García Márquez’s brother announced that the Colombian author, who is in his mid-eighties, was suffering from debilitating dementia, and would never write again. This is a retirement of sorts, but vastly different from what the AARP is selling—borne out of illness and decline and the grostequeries of time. Stephen King, a younger man, tried to retire a decade ago. Folks wondered back then what it all meant for such a hugely popular writer to give it up in middle age. King may have been the first novelist to attempt the modern public retirement, but it didn’t stick. He has spent his retirement writing books, dozens of them, and so is a failed test. Older models are hard to find. Shakespeare might have retired. Some historians note that no written work has been attributed to him after 1613, when he moved out to Stratford. Others have argued that he remained more active, and that the idea of full retirement is anachronistic and misapplied. Milton seemed a good candidate for retirement, blind and increasingly ill. But he kept at it, and was still disparaging Catholics right up until near the end. Dickens gave a series of “farewell readings” throughout Britain in his final two years—placing a kind of full-stop on his living legacy. Dickens is the early model of all kinds of later public fame, and so it seems fitting that he originated all those rock-star farewell tours that have followed. Yet he’d not really retired, and was still working on “Edwin Drood” before he died.

At the Millions, Bill Morris points out a few other de facto or de jure literary retirements: Rimbaud, Salinger, Harper Lee, the Hungarian writer Imre Kertész. He notes that Alice Munro announced her retirement in 2006, only to keep writing. And Morris cites the case of E. M. Forster, who wrote the last novel published in his lifetime, “A Passage to India,” in 1924, and then lived on for another forty-six years. Forster’s early exile from fiction is often thought to be related to his secret homosexuality—and his final novel, “Maurice,” which was begun in 1913 but not published until after his death, concerns the love affair of two men.

None of these examples represent as concrete and familiar a retirement as Roth’s, perhaps because this kind of thing is so thoroughly contemporary. A retirement announcement by a novelist connects to the current model of fame in which public persons—even a few writers—are closely scrutinized and expected to share their various doings with their audience. Certainly, for a writer’s retirement to be noticed, that writer must be very famous. (No one noticed when Melville stopped writing novels.) Modern fans of artists and celebrities and other public figures expect to be kept in the loop, and readers have been known to grow impatient with writers they judge to be slow . And no writer, even an older and accomplished one, would want to be considered lazy, or perhaps worse, in the grip of writer’s block. A fixed retirement puts all such speculation to bed. Salinger might have learned from this: no one will come stalking your house looking for clues to your latest novel if they think you aren’t writing one.

If this all seems especially modern, it worth remembering that the institution of retirement itself is a modern development. Mary-Lou Weisman put it plainly in the Times back in 1999:

In the beginning, there was no retirement. There were no old people. In the Stone Age, everyone was fully employed until age 20, by which time nearly everyone was dead, usually of unnatural causes.

Weisman goes on: retirement emerged from the pension system enacted in Germany in the late nineteenth century, and didn’t take full American form until the thirties, when the country needed to find a way to make room for younger workers by encouraging older ones to stop. Could there be a similar social utility in writers formally retiring? Old people like retirement because they get to stop working and still enjoy some measure of financial protection, whether from the state or from their own previous contributions. Young people like retirement because it gets the old people out of jobs, and out of the way. Maybe there are too many writers—or not enough readers to go around—but compulsory retirement won’t help all the young scribblers much. People are still buying “Paradise Lost,” after all, despite Milton’s being safely retired long ago in the Church of St. Giles, Cripplegate.

Convincing older writers to hang it up might not save the publishing industry, but Roth’s retirement may, regardless, mark the beginning of a trend. What might the future of literary retirements look like? Maybe writers will retire on Twitter—#goinggentleintothatgoodnight. The subtle ones could simply slip the news in the acknowledgements section of their final books. Or, picture this: a novelist, flanked by her agent, editor, and spouse, sitting at a microphone, thanking her devoted fans for all their support. “It got tough there for a while, when I wrote that zombie novel, but thanks for sticking with me.” Tearing up a bit while thanking that first English teacher who believed in her.

This is not an entirely facetious image: the most obvious cases of public retirements are those of professional athletes, for whom earning potential and social utility peaks especially early in a career, and then quickly and mostly permanently falls off a cliff. No one especially cares, nor is willing to spend money to find out, what a fifty-year-old pitcher’s fastball looks like—because we already know the answer: slower. The various rites of passage from rookie year to the last press conference form, by now, a well-marked path. And yet some athletes manage to botch the staging, announcing their retirements, receiving the attention and feting as is customary to their talents, but then, rather than sauntering off to the golf course or the executive ranks or to some bank vault to swim in their money, they hang about, attempting comebacks and making fools out of the public and themselves. By the time these malingerers finally hang up the sneakers, the public has grown tired of honoring their careers and simply wish the old guys gone.

Writers are a different bunch—for all kinds of obvious reasons. They have fewer fans. They earn less money—football players are not known to wrestle over tenured creative-writing professorships. And most essentially to this discussion, their value to the public is not necessarily diminished by age; in many cases, it is, in fact, enhanced, not simply because there is for many writers a real possibility that their talents will improve with years of practice, but also because readers want to interact with the literary consciousness of writers at ninety as much as we do with writers at twenty. (James Salter, whom Nick Paumgarten writes about this week in the magazine , has a new novel out—his first in thirty years. It’s great. He turns eighty-eight in June.)

Critical opinion is not a statistics-based endeavor, and so we don’t have a graphical curve that tells us when a writer is likely to produce his or her best work. Some writers never match their first novels (Ralph Ellison, Joseph Heller). Others reach their peaks in some middle-career moment, when they have fully developed voices and still retain vigor and health and time to put toward the task. (Roth seems to fit this category, although favorites might be found at the beginning and the end). Yet there are examples of great writers writing splendidly right until the finish—and even the diminished output of older writers is valuable, if only because it matters how great writers absorb and accept and reject the pains and insights of age. Roth has mentioned that he didn’t want to add mediocre books to the world’s library—and there are many, many examples of great writers perpetrating all kinds of lesser crimes in their advanced age. It seems likely that a novel by, say, Hemingway at seventy would have been among his worst, charting the decline of his output. But who wouldn’t want to read what worlds Hemingway might have made out of being seventy? A quote attributed to him goes like this: “Retirement is the ugliest word in the language.” It seems safe to say that dying is uglier.

Roth, meanwhile, is retiring the way that Americans of a certain age are expected to retire—a bit past sixty-five, but in the same spirit. Last year, he explained his decision to Charles McGrath, of the Times . There were two explanations: the existential and the merely prosaic. The existential reason for calling it quits was summed up by a Post-it note that Roth kept stuck on his computer: “The struggle with writing is over.” That’s the chilling and powerful one, but the prosaic explanation has merit, too. Roth told McGrath:

My house this summer was full of people…. I had guests practically every weekend, and sometimes they stayed through the week. I have a cook now who cooks for me. In the old days I couldn’t have people in the house all the time. When they came for the weekend, I couldn’t get out to write.

Jealous or romantic readers, craving more, might scoff: “Roth retires … to entertain?” But why shouldn’t he? What is it about the profession of writer that denies its practitioners their share of the great twentieth-century American dream? It may be hard to imagine what the author of all those great books—a man, as David Remnick wrote, for whom writing was a “fanatical habit”—will do with himself. Shuffleboard seems unlikely. But that’s his business—surely he has done his bit for our collective company of American readers. This spring, he turned eighty and got his gold watch. And it makes sense that such an essential chronicler of American middle-class experience in the twentieth century would be the first American novelist to be treated to the trappings, minor as they are, of a public American retirement.

Then again, maybe the filmmaker Livia Manera is right, and Roth will just keep on writing, with more novels coming in his lifetime or after it. Roth told McGrath that he didn’t want to be like Frank Sinatra, and make a big thing of retiring only to come back. Sinatra is a more dignified example, though Roth might have mentioned Brett Favre—or all those other sad and lost sporting souls who can’t keep well enough away. We may not have wanted Roth to call it quits, but now that he has, for the sake of historical and narrative tidiness, we may hope that he keeps his word.

Illustration by Joost Swarte

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A writer’s guide to saving for retirement

Here are some options and resources to help you successfully plan out your future.

Retirement planning

Maybe you’re counting down the years (or minutes). Or maybe you can’t ever see yourself retiring. Regardless of your age and retirement timeline, now is the time to be saving for your future. Here are some of the options and resources all writers need to consider when establishing or revisiting their retirement strategy.

Getting started

Writer and editor Christy Karras began her career as a staff writer. “I realized early that as a writer I wouldn’t make a ton of money, so I wanted to be savvy about it,” says Karras. She contributed to her company’s 401(k) and learned about investing. The concept of compounding interest – interest earned on the initial principal and any accrued interest – blew her away. “Your money is making money on its own,” she says. “That’s amazing.”

When she became a full-time freelance writer, there were years she couldn’t save much, but she always tried to contribute something. One of her favorite ways to save for retirement is the Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Because you’ve already paid taxes on the money you contribute to a Roth IRA, you don’t pay taxes when you take it out (for qualified distributions). The money grows tax free, and you can contribute to a Roth IRA no matter how old you are.

“One of the beauties of a Roth IRA is that people can withdraw their contributed amount without penalties or tax,” says Maura Cassidy, vice president of retirement at Fidelity Investments, a financial services corporation. “It can allow them to start saving for retirement, but if something happens, they can tap into the money without penalty if they haven’t figured out the cycles of their business.”

The contribution limits change each year. The 2019 Roth IRA contribution limit is $6,000 for people under 50 or $7,000 for people 50 years or older. A Roth IRA is available to anyone under certain income limits, depending on your filing status.

Self-employment/small business options

Karras advocates that writers – whether full- or part-time freelancers – set themselves up as an official business so they can contribute to a retirement account through that business. Cassidy agrees. “People who are writers don’t often think of themselves as a small business,” she says. “It’s important to get into the mindset and think about running their business.”

When Jill L. Ferguson wrote Creating a Freelance Career , she included a chapter on the business aspects of freelancing, including paying taxes, finding health insurance, and saving for retirement. She interviewed numerous financial professionals for the book, and that’s when she learned about the Solo 401(k). When she became a full-time, self-employed writer, she realized she needed to start her own account.

Also known as an individual, one-participant, or self-employed 401(k), the Solo 401(k) is a plan for a business owner with no employees or for that business owner and a spouse. The business owner can make contributions as both the employer and employee.

As the employer, contributions can be made up to 25% of compensation or a calculation depending on the plan and “plan compensation” level, according to the IRS Retirement Plans for Self-Employed People website (see “Resources”).

As the employee, you can contribute up to 100% of earned income up to the annual limit ($19,000 in 2019, or $25,000 if 50 years or older). It’s important for freelance writers who are employed elsewhere and participating in that organization’s 401(k) plan to remember that annual limits on employee contributions are by person, not plan.

It’s also important to note that total contributions to a participant’s Solo 401(k) account – from both the employer and employee – can’t exceed $56,000 for 2019, though people over age 50 can contribute a little more.

Ferguson researches stocks and invests regularly. However, unlike many people who invest monthly, she’s found it easiest to save separately and contribute a lump sum at the end of the year. Regardless of approach, she says, “It’s important to take advantage of all the opportunities you have to save and write things off.”

Another option that could work for writers is the Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA. A SEP IRA is somewhat like a profit-sharing plan for a small business and is funded solely by employer contributions. Employees cannot contribute to a SEP IRA.

As an employer, a small business owner can contribute up to $56,000 in 2019. However, if you have any eligible employees beyond yourself, you must set up an account for every one and contribute the same percentage to everyone – including yourself – each year. Employees are fully vested in the money right away.

Depending on how your business is set up and how much you make, you could have both a SEP IRA and a Solo 401(k), in addition to contributing to the Roth IRA. Or you could consider other investment options.

There are requirements and limitations on all the different plans, as well as maximum contributions that change each year. It’s important to review the details and understand your own situation before moving forward with any strategy. “You should absolutely talk to a professional,” says Karras.

Executing a strategy

Freelance science writer and author Catherine Dold was single when she began writing for hire. She realized it was up to her to save for her future and began to focus on saving. “With freelancing, the money comes in spurts and you can’t count on it,” she says.

Dold developed a specific financial plan. For every payment, she puts aside 65 percent for salary, 20 percent for taxes, and 15 percent for savings. Whenever she hits her annual salary mark, she changes the formula to 80 percent savings and 20 percent taxes. “My taxes aren’t that much because I maximize my deductions,” says Dold. At the end of the year, any excess goes into savings.

She advises other writers to think about savings first. “I’ve known freelancers who would be excited about a big check, and they would go on a trip to Paris,” says Dold. “I would say, ‘Are you nuts – that’s your savings!’”

She also contributes to a Roth IRA and a Solo 401(k). Initially, she was saving but not investing well. She found a fee-only financial advisor and now feels peace of mind that she’s on a good path. “I would hate to pay someone a percentage of everything every year,” she says. “My advisor has an hourly rate, and that’s it. He doesn’t make any money off of the things he recommends.”

For people who don’t feel the need to talk to a professional, there are robo-advisors. Freelance personal finance journalist Dori Zinn worked hard to get out of debt from student loans and credit cards before she started saving for retirement. She uses a digital platform that offers personalized investment recommendations based on computer algorithms for her retirement planning.

“A robo-advisor is great if you’re trying to save for retirement without the added costs of someone managing it for you,” says Zinn. “It’s really great for writers who don’t earn a whole lot but still believe in the importance of saving for retirement.”

She likes robo-advisors because they’re hands-off and easy to manage. After you complete a questionnaire, your style of investing is crafted for you. For people who want to talk to a person, some robo-advisors have the option for a fee. You can set up accounts at many financial firms, such as Ally, Fidelity, and Wealthfront.

The bottom line

While each person will have her own strategy based on her own situation, one thing everyone can agree on is the need to start planning for retirement early. The earlier you begin to invest, the greater the power of compounding interest.

It’s also important to continue exploring retirement planning options. “It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it thing,” says Zinn. “It’s an ongoing, fluid process.” She also advocates finding a company that’s a fit and says if you’re not happy with your advisor or company, you should leave. “Find a company you like that charges minimal fees and helps you invest in ways you believe,” she says.

You should also remember to pay yourself first. “I think writers, including myself, love the craft and believe we’ll do it forever, but that doesn’t mean our income will last us forever,” says Zinn. Most writers she knows don’t think about their long-term goals or futures because they’re fixated on the here and now.

“Unless writers are financially savvy, most are so busy running their business, they don’t worry about themselves,” says Cassidy. “The more you make it a habit and pay yourself – whatever the amount – the more your contributions will add up over time.”

“People can be so scared and think ‘I’m going to live in poverty because I’m a writer.’ Not true,” says Karras. “We’re not doomed. But it’s important to be smart about the money you have.”

Jennifer L. Blanck is a freelance writer whose writing has recently appeared in Craftbeer.com , Toastmaster, USA Rice Daily, Whole Grain, and Wine Tourism Management and Marketing. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @JLBlanck .

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7 ways a freelance writer can create retirement income

© 2023 Think Save Retire .

Being a freelancer certainly has its perks but is early retirement an option?

becoming a writer in retirement

Apr 30, 2020 · 5 min read

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7 ways a freelance writer can create retirement income

Are you interested in successfully sailing the freelancing waters and being smart about your finances at the same time? To do that, you need to be aware of some of the most important factors of personal finance management if you want to take up the responsibility of becoming a freelancer. How can you prepare for a crisis of low business and savings if you want to retire early as a freelancer ?

While you might argue that gig work is reminiscent of 18th-century merchants and tradespeople, freelancing is a relatively new trend in the modern business world, but predictions say that the U.S. workforce will soon have more freelancers than on-site, regular workers. Companies certainly reap their own benefits from hiring a remote, non-employee workforce, but is there something in it for freelancers other than just profit? Is it a chance to earn your way to early retirement?

Due to the specific way of working, living and functioning in a freelance business, it’s crucial to plan your financial situation in advance. A lot of freelancers don’t do this and simply enjoy the high-profit wave, go through lifestyle creep , and later pay for their mistakes .

To prevent these kinds of financial issues, we’re bringing you some of the most important tips on successfully managing your finances as a freelancer and planning for early retirement:

Create A Low-Business Fund Next to Your Retirement Fund

Creating a black fund (for periods when you’re having trouble landing new clients) is one of the smartest moves you can make as a freelancer. A lot of freelance workers who plan for their retirement do it wisely and meticulously, but fail to prepare for those grim days where you just can’t seem to land a project.

In non-freelance terms, regular workers usually call this an emergency fund which serves to take care of your expenses in the case you get fired or decide to quit your job. Experts recommend that this fund should cover at least 6 months of expenses. This should give you more than enough time to find a project that you’re happy with and enough leverage to not have to accept low-paid projects out of desperation.

View Your Freelance Revenue as Revenue, not Profit

During the negotiation stage, many freelancers tend to think of the money they’ll receive from the project as pure profit. Unfortunately, this is rarely true.

First of all, if you’re doing business through an intermediary freelancing service like Freelancer, Fiverr, or Upwork, you have to account for their fees as well (for more accurate expense estimates, you should also factor in your subscription price on these sites).

Secondly, if your freelance business is a legal entity or you operate as a self-employed person, a hefty portion of your revenue will go to the national budget (aka the IRS in the form of taxes). However, it’s always more wise to do business in a way that’s law-compliant and allows you to enjoy fruits of your labor care-free.

Always keep in mind that the number you receive from your client is usually not the amount you will receive as profit.

Separate Your Personal, Business and Savings Accounts

Unless you enjoy headaches, keeping your personal and business expenses separate as a contractor is crucial. And in the same sense, if you always want to have a clear overview of how much you’re spending in your business or in your everyday life and how much you’re saving for retirement, it’s smart to create separate accounts that will always show you exactly how much you’re working with.

“Running a freelance business, taking care of your private expenses and saving for retirement all at the same time can be extremely chaotic. The easiest way to simplify it all is to separate these chunks of funds into different accounts and never touch them for purposes they’re not intended for”, advises Diana Adjadj, a writer at Studyker and WriteScout .

Your business account can serve for everything that’s needed to run your freelance business, while your private checking account can be used to pay out everything that’s left after the business expenses.

This way, you will never be unaware about the amount of money that’s available for real expenses, which will reduce your rates of irrational and impulse spending and set you up for success in saving. Which brings us to…

Saving, saving, saving!

If you decide to work as a freelancer on your way to early retirement, you have to come to peace with the fact that you will be your own boss. This means that the level of rationality that you approach your finances with will be the exact level of benefits you will receive.

As I’ve already mentioned, it’s unavoidable that one month, it will be raining clients, while another will seem like an apocalypse – it’s the freelance Circle of Life or the abundance-dry spell cycle .

Make no mistake, even if your skill is in super high demand, you will have droughts, and that’s perfectly normal. The key is to prepare for them – both organizationally and financially.

Start Investing

Taking the time and money to invest can be a great way to build your retirement income . Since freelancing is time consuming, we recommend focusing on investing strategies that provide passive income. One example is getting into index funds which is almost entirely passive. Although it sounds simple, index investing is something that takes careful planning and patience up front. Once you’ve set up the accounts and made your investing decisions, there isn’t much for you to do.   Real estate investing is another way to create some semi or completely passive income.

Diversify Your Client List

Starting a freelance career that can sustain you to retirement is definitely not an easy feat. Many contractors are ecstatic to finally land a regular big client for a long-term agreement (over 6 months).

This is great and will allow you to plan your finances with more predictability, but tread lightly when it comes to putting all your eggs in one basket.

To avoid this, try to work with as many clients at the same time (at least two or three) in case one of them backs out, or simply ends the project. If you want to actually have a retirement income from your freelancing, you will have to maintain your rolodex of clients at all times.Relying on just one client can severely undermine your efforts. If you’re having trouble signing new clients, you should look into ways to get more contract work .

Reduce Your Spending – Both Business and Personal

When it comes to saving for early retirement, cutting back on expenses is even more important than earning a lot of money. If you maintain a lifestyle where you can function on a lower amount of funds, you’ll create a habit that will follow you into your retirement and help build a life that’s modest, happy and free of financial worry.

Many aspiring freelance early retirees try to cut back on their personal spending as much as possible, which is good, but have you already considered your business cost? For example, are you renting out space that you could do without? Do you use software that has cheaper alternatives? Just like in personal finances, you can save a lot by being frugal .

Organizing your finances and planning for early retirement as a freelancer can be exciting, but also quite daunting. A lack of control over your personal finances can cause you many problems, especially when it comes to long-term plans.

Learn strategic and disciplined finance management, use some of the advice that we’ve explained above and don’t let finances stop you from retiring early and enjoying your life to the maximum.

Marques Coleman is a blog writer at TopEssayWriting and specializes in marketing and copywriting. Moreover, he is an avid traveler and always tries to learn something new.

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Why I Chose Travel Writing As My Retirement Career

becoming a writer in retirement

I love to work, explore new possibilities, get out of my comfort zone, live a full and exciting life, and hang out with my husband. I chose travel writing as my retirement career so I could enjoy all those things and live a good life.

1. Travel With My Husband

My husband retired at 67 after 42 years of working with the same company. He grappled with the decision for several years before actually setting a retirement date. While he was trying to figure out his timeline, I was busy working on mine.

We knew we wanted to enjoy travel opportunities together, and being five years younger than him, I didn’t want to wait until I reached my full retirement age before leaving my nine to five. Traveling was the driving factor in what type of job I wanted for my third act. It had to allow us to travel together anytime we wanted, to live in warmer climates when cold New England weather set in, and to enjoy traveling while we were both still in our go-go years.

Needless to say, work in the travel industry became the front runner. When I added up all the skills and reasons listed below, I knew that travel writing would be the perfect job for me to work in my retirement.

Pro-Tip: I worked my travel writing side hustle for two years while my hubby was still working full time. I wanted to make sure I could make the transition without impacting my income too severely.

2. Utilize My Marketing Background

My professional background is in Marketing. I was an Advancement Director for a private school. The majority of my work centered around writing and raising the annual fund. I wrote correspondence, annual appeals, newsletters, website content, marketing collateral, the annual report, and more.

Having a background in marketing that required writing compelling compositions was the perfect training ground to write compelling travel stories.

Pro-Tip : While I was working full time, I made sure to save money that would cover me for the first six months after I left my regular day job. I needed that security to help me move forward comfortably.

3. I Will Always Work

I am a workaholic. I love to work (most of the time). I don’t ever see myself not working. I chose my retirement career knowing that I could work well into my later years.

Now, I expect I won’t be cranking out trips and clips at the pace I currently do, but travel writing will always give me one thing — a great reason to travel.

I have so many trips on my bucket list that I expect to travel and create stories at any age, even well into my 80s.

Pro-tip: Working keeps your mind active and creative; it gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Find something you love to do because now is the time to love your work.

4. Set My Own Schedule

Setting my own schedule is a big reason why I became a travel writer. After working in the development world where you have networking meetings at night, weekend meetings with potential donors, and the day-to-day regular work stuff, it is easy to get burnt out. I resented the time my work took away from my family.

As a travel writer, I mostly get to set my schedule. I am in my home office every morning writing, planning, and pitching travel write-ups. It is my dream job. After years of writing, I don’t believe in writer’s block. Have you ever heard of engineer’s block? Or nurse’s block? No. You just need to get started and go on from there.

When I am on press trips, the public relations (PR) team tells me where and when to go. But, ultimately, I get to decide if the trip is right for me. On a recent trip to Puerto Rico , a tourist board representative led us around the central mountains. This is great because you don’t have to plan or think, you just follow along.

Pro Tip : You need to set aside time every day to write. Even if you don’t have an assignment. Writing is what makes you a writer. It is what makes your dreams come true.

5. Travel Expenses As Business Expenses

This is one of my favorite perks of being a professional travel writer. Many times, my trips are covered by PR firms, but sometimes they are out-of-pocket expenses. When these trip expenses lead to a travel story, they may become business expenses.

Pro-Tip: Discuss your travel business with your accountant. They will help with all the paperwork you need to be compliant.

6. Nomadic Lifestyle

The flexibility my semi-nomadic lifestyle brings to the table is liberating! I mentioned cold New England winters — so over that. We get to plan our winters in sunnier places. This past year, we spent several weeks in Hawaii and then a month in South Carolina. It was so nice not to bundle up every time I went out the door.

For example, as I am writing this story, I am visiting Cooperstown, NY, for a story on the Baseball Hall of Fame. I am sitting on the porch at the charming Cooperstown B&B . Yesterday, I was at a two-day, luxury glamping retreat at Gilbertsville Farmhouse practicing goat yoga. Who’s retired? Not me — retirement is the best job ever.

Pro Tip : Deadlines still need to be met, however, when you are polishing up a story about Maui while sitting on a gorgeous Maui Beach, it’s not bad.

7. Press Trips And FAM Trips

Press Trips and FAM (familiarization) trips are the best way to make your time and effort pay more.

When you attend a press trip with a group of writers, you will be exposed to insider information that the general public doesn’t typically have access to. This allows you to write from more interesting and unusual angles. FAM trips can sometimes be just journalists or they can be you and a traveling companion.

Find your niche. Pick three or four words that describe your writing chops. Keep your bio consistent — “I am a travel writer with a focus on 50 plus travel, local cuisine, and fun libations. Stories and content creation from the U.S. and beyond.”

Pro-Tip: Start locally with press trips. Get to know your local tourist board. This will allow you to build up clips and credentials.

8. Seeing The USA

I am a Boston-based writer and I write about what I know. These are the easiest articles to plan, pitch, and write. New England has been my playground for years. So, I often write about all the wonderful places to eat, things to see, and experiences to have in and around New England.

My goal is to see the USA. I have about ten states and a few territories left to explore. Keeping these states in mind as I plan trips helps me fulfill my goal of visiting all the states and territories.

Pro Tip : Keep it simple and write about what you know.

9. Foreign Country Exploration

I love Europe. I try to visit several times each year. As with collecting states, exploring new countries and regions are important to me. I adore the food, culture, and history of Europe. That’s my thing. You need to find your thing.

Pro-tip: Find what is important to you and pursue that dream.

I Love Being A Travel Writer

This is undoubtedly my favorite job ever. I never would have been able to pursue travel writing while raising my family, but now that it is just me and hubby, it is my happily-ever-after job. Becoming a travel writer offers me a freedom that I haven’t experienced for many, many years. It is liberating, it is interesting, and it is more fun than you would ever imagine.

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” said Dr. Seuss

To read more about options after retirement, check out these articles:

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Sandi loves writing about culture, cuisine, adult beverages, cruising, golf, skiing, road trips, hiking, New England, and photography. Traveling solo, with hubby Chris, or the entire Barrett clan there is always a story waiting to be told.

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How to Write a Retirement Letter to Your Employer

Here’s how to formally announce your plans to retire.

Write a Retirement Letter to Your Employer

becoming a writer in retirement

You can take the opportunity to express gratitude for the job and share any special achievements. (Getty Images)

After years of saving and planning, fortunate employees get to finally announce their intention to retire. This usually involves writing a letter to your supervisor or employer indicating your plans and the date you expect to leave your position. But writing a retirement letter can be a tricky and sometimes emotional experience. Here's how to notify your employer about your retirement plans.

Make sure you qualify for retirement benefits. Before officially announcing your retirement date, double check that you have qualified for all the retirement benefits you are entitled to. Determine the amount of any pension payments you are eligible for, make sure you have vested in your 401(k) plan and give some thought to when you will sign up for Social Security . "You want to make sure any benefits you're taking with you, in this case a pension or 401(k), if any, are all secure and handled, so research this before you send your letter," says John Tarnoff, a career coach and author of "Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50."

3 Challenges of Delayed Retirement

Emily Brandon Feb. 20, 2018

They are sitting on a yellow bench on the decking together outdoors in the garden

You don't want to leave a job without another form of health insurance set up so you can avoid gaps in coverage. Find out if you qualify for retiree health benefits, COBRA coverage or Medicare . "I would have conversations with HR on the availability of health insurance, COBRA or retiree health insurance options," says Marc Miller, founder of Career Pivot and author of "Repurpose Your Career - A Practical Guide for the 2nd Half of Life."

[See: 15 In-Demand Jobs for Seniors .]

Give ample notice, but not too much. Some employers might allow older workers to help select and train a successor and mentor younger employees in the months before they exit the company. However, other companies might ask you to leave shortly after you give notice about your retirement plans . Those who have announced their retirement date may stop getting invited to meetings about future company initiatives and projects. "I would not tell them any sooner than required by company guidelines," Miller says. "I would keep it just like a resignation letter, short, sweet and nothing negative. We want to keep everything clean and simple, so that if you wanted to come back as a consultant or contractor, there is no paper trail on why they could not contract with you."

Express gratitude for the job and share some achievements. A retirement letter can be a way to express thanks for a long career at the company and the privilege of holding a leadership position. It can also be a place to list accomplishments and successful workplace endeavors. "You want to be upbeat and praise the company and your boss and your team," Tarnoff says. "Don't be apologetic, embarrassed or awkward about retiring. At the same time, don't be arrogant or haughty about 'finally' leaving the world of work behind." A retirement letter is generally not the right place to air grievances about the company.

[See: 19 Part-Time Retirement Jobs That Pay Well .]

Leave the door open for seasonal work or consulting. If you would like to shift to part-time work or take on occasional consulting projects, take care to mention the types of work you are most interested in pursuing. "Let them know the kind of role you might come back and play," says Mary Furlong, president and CEO of Mary Furlong and Associates and author of "Turning Silver into Gold: How to Profit in the New Boomer Marketplace." "Think about the parts of the job that you found interesting and call those parts out in the continuing role you might want to play. You want to be pretty explicit that you would like to stay connected." If you have expertise that could be useful if a situation comes up, explain that you would be willing to help with specific types of projects.

Offer to help with the transition. Older workers have often developed significant expertise in their career field. Those who have been at the same company for a decade or more may have valuable institutional knowledge. You might be willing to mentor younger employees, help find a replacement for your current position and even train another employee to fill your former role. "You want to allow time for knowledge transfer and training," Furlong says. "You always want to let them know you will keep an eye out for talent that could be groomed to join the company."

[Read: 10 Resume Mistakes That Make You Look Old .]

Mention your future plans. You might be retiring to travel , spend time with your grandchildren, volunteer in your community or to launch an encore career. Or perhaps you are leaving your job to deal with a health problem or care for a family member. Consider sharing some of your future plans with your colleagues. "When it's time, and you're fortunate enough to have the means to do it, retiring can be your time to take a new direction in your life, explore that bucket list and perhaps be of greater service to your community," Tarnoff says. "That's something to feel proud of and excited about, and sharing that mission with your soon-to-be ex-employer should feel like a big win for you and for them."

10 Ways to Celebrate Your Retirement

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Pensioner terrified of being kicked out of retirement home as bills skyrocket by £400

Maggie Jones, 69, fears being made homeless after PA Housing informed residents at her retirement accommodation in Putney, South London, their bills will increase by over £400 a month

Maggie Jones, 69, fears being made homeless

A retirement home resident fears she'll be made homelessness with her bills due to rise by more than £400 a month.

Those living in Oak House, Putney, South London, were sent a letter from PA Housing last month informing them of the increase from May 8.

Their rent, heating, water and electricity - which are calculated communally - are all going up.

Though some occupants' housing benefits will continue to cover rent and fixed service charges.

Maggie Jones said most residents will be left "out of pocket" thanks to the hike - regardless of how much benefits go up.

The 69-year-old overall charge will rise from £190.22 in 2022/23 to £300.88 in 2023/24 a week - a 58per cent hike, or £110.66.

This includes an increase in electricity bills from £1.66 to £15.38 a week, or 827pc, and from £6.15 to £44.31 a week for heating, or 620pc.

She told MyLondon : "I’ve been renting for 25 years, private and social landlords, I have never been hit with such a big rent hike."

In its letter, PA said it had reached the decision due to the cost of contracts increasing as suppliers charge more for their services amid the rise in energy prices.

After being informed of the increase, Ms Jones said: "We didn’t sleep, we were worried, we were ringing family members. I told my daughter in complete panic: 'What am I going to do? Am I going to be homeless?'"

She added: "I’ve got the cushion of a private pension which others don’t have and I’m still at risk of being homeless, so at least I do have an extra pension to help me… I’m marginally better off but I’m still at great risk of being homeless. So it’s even worse for the others, even more of a worry."

Ms Jones said it's also the "principle" of raising the overall charge by such a percentage.

She said: "When inflation is at 8.8per cent, especially with vulnerable people in the community - none of us can go to work, none of us can get a job, none of us can find extra income and that’s grossly unfair".

The Consumer Prices Index, including owner-occupier housing costs rose by 8.8pc in the 12 months to January 2023, down from 9.2pc in December 2022, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Ms Jones said: "It's a rip-off, completely unjustifiable, and that's what really annoys me.

"We’re going to be much worse off... no matter what happens."

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Garbage Mounts in Odorous Last Stand Against France’s Pension Change

A bill raising the retirement age for most workers by two years, to 64, could become law this week despite widespread protests, including a strike by garbage workers in Paris and elsewhere.

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By Catherine Porter

Catherine Porter reported this article from Paris, where she is based.

Mounds of food waste piled in view of the Eiffel Tower. Small cobblestone streets lined with overflowing garbage bins. The bank of the Seine skirted by heaps of trash.

For more than a week now, garbage workers in parts of Paris and other cities across France have been on strike, protesting President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the age when most workers begin collecting a government pension to 64, from 62.

The refuse rising in insalubrious piles, some taller than the pedestrians trying to avoid them, is a smelly, visceral symbol of popular outrage at the government’s plan. It also serves as a physical reminder of the hardship of professions not suited for old age, garbage workers say.

“You can see our work all over Paris,” said Alain Auvinet, 55, picketing at the garbage incinerator on the city’s western edge where he has worked for 35 years. “We held huge protests. The government didn’t listen. Instead, it gave us the finger. This is our last way of pushing back.”

After two months of political debates, large protests in towns and cities across the country and scattered strikes, the final decision on France’s pension system is likely to be made this week. On Wednesday, amid more boisterous protests across the country, a joint committee of lawmakers from both parliamentary houses hammered out a common version of the proposed law, which will be presented to the Senate and National Assembly for final approval on Thursday.

The looming question is whether Mr. Macron has assembled enough support from outside his hodgepodge centrist political party to secure the vote in the National Assembly, where it no longer holds a strong majority. If not, the next question is whether Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne would instead use her constitutional power to force the bill into law without a vote, exposing the government to a no-confidence motion.

Members of the government believed the “conditions were met” for a majority to approve the bill, its spokesman, Olivier Véran, said on Wednesday. The government was not contemplating using the alternative constitutional force, he said, “but neither are we contemplating abandoning our pension reform plans.”

Either way, few expect to see the week’s end with France retaining a retirement age of 62.

“I support the strikers,” said Dawoud Guenfoud, looking out at a slalom course of overflowing garbage bins lining the sidewalk outside the decorations and gift store he manages near Place de la Madeleine. “But, I think the reform is going to pass.”

Demonstrators in Paris on Wednesday protesting the French government’s plan to raise the retirement age to 64.

The French enjoy one of the most generous retirement systems in Europe. Built after World War II as part of the country’s lauded social protection system, the complex pension program offers what many consider a golden — and lengthy — third stage of life, to explore passions, enjoy grandchildren and volunteer while enjoying a standard of living on par with or better than the general population. As many workers like garbage collectors argue, it is also seen as a time to recuperate from a lifetime of arduous labor.

Mr. Macron’s government argues the retirement age must be pushed up to keep the system solvent. Current workers and their employers pay for the pensions of retirees, but with people living longer and the number of pensioners growing, the system faces long-term deficits.

But even the official body tasked with monitoring France’s pension system has acknowledged that there is no immediate threat of bankruptcy, and unions and left-wing opponents have accused Mr. Macron of ignoring other ways of increasing funding, including taxes on the wealthy.

From the beginning, opinion polls have shown that a large and relatively unwavering majority of French people oppose the change. Millions have poured into the street for eight national protest marches .

While the country’s eight leading unions have joined together in a relatively rare show of unity to oppose the change, so far they have little to show for their actions. Mr. Macron declined to meet with them last week, arguing that he did not want to circumvent the parliamentary debates.

On Wednesday, marchers gathered in towns and cities across France to express their final opposition to the bill.

“This is not what I expected Paris to look like,” said Martina Stengina, 18, a German university student, stepping out of a taxi and maneuvering her bright red suitcase around a sprawling jumble of garbage in the middle of the street in the city’s eastern end, where she had rented an apartment. “I just hope this doesn’t bring rats into our place,” she said, as one of her friends posed for a selfie in front of the trash.

Georgina Pillement, 32, surveyed the piles of garbage outside her office building near Place Vendôme during a smoke break.

“France is supposed to be a leader in ecology,” said Ms. Pillement, who works at a green investment firm. “The Olympic Games are just a year away. This makes me a bit worried.”

The workers went on strike more than a week ago in cities across the country, including Le Havre, Nantes, Antibes and Rennes. In Paris, about half of the city has been affected, from the swanky 16th arrondissement, to the city’s historic intellectual heart in the Latin Quarter and working-class residential areas in the east.

On Wednesday, some 7,600 metric tons of garbage remained uncollected on the street, according to Paris city hall. Workers at all three incinerators that burn the city’s garbage are also striking.

Relishing the chance to redirect the anger, some national government ministers attacked the Socialist mayor, Anne Hidalgo, and the Paris city administration , which hung two banners is support of the protest movement outside its ornate city hall, for not picking up the garbage.

Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire responded by saying that Mr. Macron’s government was responsible. He expressed sympathy for garbage workers who have lower life expectancy than business executives, saying two more years of work “counts a lot.”

“The best way to get them back to work is to withdraw the retirement reform bill,” he said.

Few people think that will happen. The government is expected to force its plan through, no matter how unpopular.

“You no longer lead; you no longer seek to obtain the consent of the people,” declared François Ruffin, a far-left lawmaker with the France Unbowed party, during a question period in the National Assembly on Tuesday. “You are crushing a democracy that you should heal; you are damaging a country that needs to be repaired.”

Ms. Borne, the prime minister, responded that her government had already consulted widely, and expected the support of a majority that “believes in the pension system” and “wants to guarantee that youth will benefit from it.”

If the bill becomes law, it is unclear whether huge protests would continue and what long-term ramifications that would have, if any, for Mr. Macron and his government.

Some political analysts predict that the protests will dissipate, but that a bitterness will drive voters to punish Mr. Macron’s party, first in next year’s European Parliament elections.

“People won’t mobilize for a law that’s already been voted on by the Parliament because French workers recognize the legitimacy of Parliament that results from universal suffrage,” said Guy Groux, a sociologist at Sciences Po. “The most likely outcome is that unions will say, ‘If the law is passed, there will be political repercussions at the ballot box.’”

But the specter of pushing the bill through without a vote — though constitutional — strikes many as undemocratic. “The least we can say is that it will be seriously disrespectful of what is happening in the streets and of what public opinion thinks,” said Philippe Martinez, the head of the far-left CGT union on Wednesday. His workers intended to continue the combat, he said.

Many see the planned change as a threat to their way of life and values.

“France is a country of solidarity. We are losing that, bit by bit,” said Mr. Auvinet, the picketing worker, who hopes to still retire early at 57, like most garbage workers under the current system in France. Under the government’s plan, that age would be pushed gradually to 59.

Standing beside him before a fire set in a metal container outside the dormant incinerator in Issy-les-Moulineaux, his colleague Vincent Pommier, 27, agreed: “We believe in living, not surviving. We aren’t numbers. We aren’t beasts.”

Tom Nouvian and Aurelien Breeden contributed reporting.

How Please Stopped Being Polite

The phrase if it please you has been shortened and shortened over time—until it’s become more brusque than courteous.

The word "please" in cursive script on a white background, pierced by nails poking through

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Growing up in a strict household, I was taught to honor etiquette; I still call my elders “sir” and “ma’am,” and I always say thank you. But I almost never use the word please . I’d happily ask someone “Could you shut the window?,” but the request “ Please shut the window” sounds terribly impatient and terse.

Although the word still appears in print and speech, I’m not the only one who’s noticed that its usage—and reception—seems to be changing. What happened?

When it first entered the English language, sometime in the 1300s, the verb please was meant as a display of deference: The phrase, typically, was if it please you , translated from the French s’il vous plaît . (“And if it please you … that I may be made knyghte,” asks the honorable huntsman Tristram, for instance, in Thomas Malory’s 15th-century English epic Le Morte d’Arthur .) Go to Paris today, and you will find the humble s’il vous plaît alive and well. But in English, the phrase took a turn.

By the 16th century, four words had become three: If it please you had slipped into if you please . Then three became two—“Please you to have a little patience,” wrote James Shirley in the 1659 play Honoria and Mammon . Then, finally, two became one; in 1771, a London merchant wrote, “Please send the inclosed to the Port office”—the first instance found by The Oxford English Dictionary of the adverb, and a prime example of its graceless urgency. With each diminution of the phrase, the speaker lost some regard for his hearer and gained some regard for himself.

Read: The decline of etiquette and the rise of ‘boundaries’

The shortened please has nevertheless lived on for centuries. After I emailed the psychologist Steven Pinker, who chaired The American Heritage Dictionary ’s Usage Panel before its dissolution in 2018, about the adverb, he tracked its use over time in fiction —a rough approximation of conversational speech. He found that from 1860 to 2012, it enjoyed a steady increase; instances of if you please declined in the same period. Pinker offered that its rise might have reflected a trend toward “informalization”: The adverb form’s casual efficiency may have been just what sparked its popularity. But eventually, it might have drifted too far in the direction of informality.

Since 2012, the adverb’s frequency in fiction has decreased. “Politeness terms” tend to get tugged between two impulses, Pinker noted: the fear of seeming rude, and the fear of seeming fawning or gushy. “They may rise and fall in popularity when they seem to veer too much in one direction or another,” he said. Please can toe the line between brief and brusque, depending on its context; a child asking “Can I have some more candy please?” sounds harmless compared with your boss saying “Can you have this report on my desk by Monday please?” The word tends to communicate an expectation, rather than a genuine question, and that can give it an authoritative edge; the please can feel especially perfunctory coming from someone in a position of power, but it can rub people the wrong way in plenty of circumstances. I, for one, can’t bring myself to summon it unless accepting something already offered—as in “Yes, please.”

Sometimes, please can even imply intentional rudeness. “I can hardly imagine a young person saying ‘Could you please …’ except with special irritation stress on please , implying, ‘I’ve asked more than enough times,’” Noam Chomsky, arguably the father of modern linguistics, told me. I was reminded of the ’90s thriller Basic Instinct . When the character Catherine Tramell tells visiting detectives to “get the fuck out of here, please,” she sums it up: The word can brilliantly convey anger, irony, passive aggression, condescension, formality, or desperation—all without a hint of true politeness.

Read: Is it better to be polite or honest?

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to ask for something—think “Would you mind …?” As the writer Choire Sicha observed in The New York Times , the request “Hey, could you …?” is especially widespread in an office context. He finds that phrase irritating; on the spectrum from curt to cloying, it’s certainly closer to the latter end. Gentler alternatives like these, though, might portend the near future of the polite request. Unlike please , they spend more than one syllable on their recipient and, following their ancestor s’il vous plaît , don’t assume an outcome.

Chomsky, like plenty of others, still uses please . (“I’m an old-fashioned conservative,” he explained.) I doubt he means the word to sound anything but gracious. And yet, I do think efforts to enforce its use are misguided: Take Amazon’s setting for its virtual assistant, Alexa, in which she responds “Thanks for asking so nicely” when kids say the “magic word,” or companies such as Chick-fil-A training their employees to use it. These measures confuse please , the term, with courtesy in general—as if it’s impossible to be polite without it.

The truth is that English is a living language, always and inevitably evolving, and no one can freeze it in time. If the word’s centuries-long shortening teaches us anything, though, it’s that this evolution can be fitful, and its transitions awkward. Please is at a strange crossroads between its once and future meaning—but it would please me to see it go.

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