Top Ten Suggestions for Writers Over Age Fifty

A friend asked me the other day if I had any tips for anyone wanting to write over fifty. At first, I was a little taken aback. Most suggestions I had applied to any writer, of any age, but starting later in life does make a difference.

 

It is an exiting time. Ours is the first generation to actually look at retiring in a whole new light with anywhere from twenty to thirty years of productivity. It’s a second chance for some, no longer tied to a nine to five job or the demands associated with raising kids. A time to unselfishly reach for the stars.

 

Someone over fifty has, more than likely, experienced success at some level. But tackling anything as a new venture, whether it’s writing essays, short stories, a novel, or attempting publication, at this time of life takes tremendous dedication. Also, an idea and fingers on the keyboard won’t even buy a cup of coffee, unless you are a celebrity with a contract. It’s a humbling realization.

 

That said, writing is a dream come true for me. I had this insane thought: I loved to read, and if I could read, I could write. There is some truth that to be a good writer one must be a good reader, but a bibliophile isn’t an instinctive author. Bearing that in mind and armed with determination, I read everything from pamphlets to entire books on writing, joined a writer’s group, and learned the craft. What I learned–a writer gets better only by writing and writing and writing. Let’s get started.

 

Top Ten Suggestions:

 

  1. Commitment–Stop procrastinating. Just do it.
  2. Set a realistic goal–For me, this meant a screenplay before I started a 85,000 word novel. If I could write 90 pages, then I could write 180, then 300… and so it went.
  3. Make a place to write–This is more important than it sounds. I started with a makeshift place at the top of the stairs, but it was a place to leave my computer, notecards, and ideas. Now, I have an office, a real desk, and a window.
  4. Schedule the time–if you want others to take you seriously, you have to take yourself seriously, first. This might take a while. Some authors write first thing in the morning, others write at the end of the day… I write three full days and two afternoons each week. Put it on the calendar so nothing interferes with your writing. This will take some retraining of friends and family, maybe a day without the grandkids, so be warned. It won’t be easy.
  5. Write–Put your butt in the chair and hands on the keyboard. The first line is the hardest, but you might be surprised where it takes you. Nothing is written in stone. Delete what you don’t like; no one else will ever know.
  6. Find a writer’s group–I can’t stress enough how important this is. The greatest support comes from other writers, also the greatest access to craft education and workshops. And don’t worry, the room isn’t filled with twenty year olds when you walk in
  7. Don’t let “just” anyone read your work–Although ejection is part of the process, it doesn’t sit well when it comes from friends and family. Be careful who reads your work, especially at first. It’s your baby; you don’t want anyone to call it ugly.
  8. Allow written works to rest before doing revisions–Typos, dropped themes, and one dimensional characters are sharper and clearer once a little time has gone by.
  9. Rewards come with each milestone–The first chapter, the first draft, the first completed revision, the first query, the first rejection: all were celebrated at our house with champagne or a latte with friends.
  10. Read, read, readThere is so much to learn by reading other authors: word usage, information delivery, and dialogue. There is no greater aficionado of prose than a fellow writer.

 

These are just my suggestions, but if you have others to share, please contact me through my blog site: Phyliscaskey.com. I would love to hear from you. We stop learning when we stop sharing.