Reaching the Golden Years means different things. You may be experiencing ‘empty nesting’ for the first time. You may be entering or already enjoying retirement. No matter what stage of ‘senior’ you are in, it is time to pursue a passion. We all have things we’ve put off while we were raising family, establishing careers and tending the hurried-up day to day activities of having a family. But as jobs wind to an end and family responsibilities change, you may find yourself pulling old dreams off the shelves, dusting them off and setting your sites on new (or old) goals.
If you longed to be a writer when you were in high school or college, you may have decided that it was impractical to develop that skill and use it as part of a career. Now may be your time to pull out the old typewriter (or the new computer) and get busy.
Start small. No one begins by writing the Great American Novel, or the great novel of any other nation. Writing, like any other skill, is learned in steps and perfected over time. Start writing small articles for your local newspaper, letters to the editors of other newspapers about national events and newsletter bits for a volunteer organization that is near and dear to your heart. While many first jobs pay little or no cash, they are good learning projects. Sites such as FanStory.com, where every piece you post receives a minimum of three peer reviews, can also prove invaluable. Peers on these sites vary by skill and interest level, but if you’re lucky you’ll find one that takes time to really let you know what you’ve done wrong, and what you’ve done right. Reviewing other’s works will also make you a stronger writer. There are dozens of online magazines (ezines) that accept submissions by new authors. Some, like Helium.com and Triond.com, pay a “per read” rate, giving you the chance to make some change as others read your words.
BellaOnline is a volunteer writing site. With more than 200 topics, something is right for everyone. Training is provided free of charge, and editors are taught to manage forums, newsletters, chats and other site issues. New articles must appear weekly. The site is a volunteer position, but money-making opportunities are available onsite. Because BellaOnline is the second largest women’s website in the world, the experience gained writing for this site is invaluable.
If you decide you are ready, take it a step farther. There are dozens of freelance sites on the web. Here, providers meet with clients who are willing to pay for work they need done. Projects range from telephone message scripts and business letters to articles or blog posts or short stories. On most sites, providers (writers) bid on the job based on a description given by the client. They provide topic, word count, delivery date and give you an idea of how much they are willing to pay for services.
Writing a job proposal can be daunting the first couple of times, but that’s where your volunteer and ezine writing experience comes into play. Make a list of where and when you’ve written. Include everything. Organize them by date or by genre (type of writing). After reading the job description, decide what experiences to include in your proposal. Highlight those that have the most to do with the job you want to win. Clearly detail why you are qualified to do this job, how much you wish to be paid and how long it will take you to complete the work. End by thanking the job poster for reading your proposal and any attachments you have sent.
Again, keep a careful record of each job. These will become your new resume.
If that novel is still skipping through your mind, now is the time to write it. Using the skills you’ve gained in your journalism and copywriting career, begin writing your book. There are courses online, webinars available and books by the hundred detailing how you can outline your plot, characters, climax and resolution. With a wealth of experience, your query letter will be taken seriously by editors or agents who might have otherwise thrown you into a slush pile.
Our Golden Years can be truly golden. They can be a time of renewal and exploration, a time of fulfilling old dreams and creating new ones. They can be the time when we finally become an author.