Freedom 40 in 40 – Part IV

Today’s post will look at finding something to do in my retirement years that is both creative and meaningful to me.  In my case, this would obviously be continuing to write on a regular basis.  To me writing satisfies some deep need to create something and I actually feel worse when I’m not writing on a regular basis.  Cheesy as it sounds writing provides fulfillment to me.

Yet I have also struggled to write on a consistent basis for years, just check out the wild swings in my posting frequency on this blog as an example.  Yet after finishing the National Novel Writing Month I learned a few things about myself and found a good reasonable output of writing for me right now is about 750 words a day (90% of the time, so that allows the odd day off).  At that rate I can write approximately write at this blog about three days a week and also finish two major projects a year (one novel and one non-fiction book).  This is a bit lower than my initial estimate, but I found 750 words works nicely for a scene in a novel so I used that as a good benchmark to work towards.

The other issue I have is finding time to edit the books I write since all first drafts always suck and need work.  I’ve accepted this reality after a number of years.  So I will also try to work out a editing schedule that allows me to also edit two books a year (not the same same ones I have just written…I find I do much better editing if I ignore things for a while and then get back to them).  During my time off in December I didn’t figure out a good method to do this so that is my project in January to figure out.  Try various methods of measuring progress and times to do it and find out what works for me.

To support my development on writing skills I really need to take some more professional classes on it and read a bit more about the mechanics of writing.  So I plan to attend at least one training event per year and also read two books per year on writing.   I know it sounds a bit like a low threshold, but I rather not just take some training to fill a quota and not get much out of it.  Good courses at a reasonable cost that I can fit in my schedule haven’t historically be easy to find.  The same is true of books on writing.  I find a lot of them either too textbook like and dry as hell to read or too readable with very little useful content.

The long term goal of all this work is to get myself lined up to switch to a writing career when I leave work.  While I would ideally like to have a novel published before I turn 40, I’m not going to worry about that right now.  As I think it is more important to get some material completed at the moment.  I’ll come back to this in 2016 to start developing some more detailed social media plans for book marketing and other ideas to support my writing career.  I also plan to write some shorter pieces in 2016 and shop those around for publication.

So fellow writers…any other ideas of things I should include here either now or in the future?

8 thoughts on “Freedom 40 in 40 – Part IV”

  1. So, if I have this right, you plan to quit your “day job” at age 40. Is it your plan to make actual income from your (hopefully) burgeoning writing career? If the writing doesn’t go well – no shame in this, very few writers make a career of it – will you get a “day job” again?

    Colour me curious…

  2. Finding things to do in early retirement will be harder then for those in later retirement. There won’t be a lot of people in your age group to hang with. Also when you tell people you are semi retired or retired you get the raised eyebrow.

    When I go on vacation I have been trying to test how it would be if I did not have to work at all and see if I could be happy and create a satisfying “alternate” lifestyle. (some place warm). I have a goal to downsize my home and also get a small one in a warmer place.

    The trick is trying to find a sense of purpose and belonging in your day along with activities. I think you are creative and adventurous that will be a lot easier for you. I must say I’m having trouble finding that direction so far. I don’t really like everything that most people or couples would like doing. So the experiment continues.

  3. @jon_snow – Very valid question, I planned to go over the money side of things in more detail in a later post, but I’ll comment on the broad idea. There will be no going back to my current ‘day job’. Instead I plan to use the writing income (if any) to mainly fund the fun things in life. So I may pick up some work here and there to fill the vacation fund if the writing thing doesn’t pan out, but I likely would avoid full time ever again. So likely no day job, but odd jobs or seasonal.

  4. Some books on writing are more “course-like” – eg. I worked my way through Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction (exercises and all – it may be a little on the literary side for what you want to write) one summer I was off – it’s used as a textbook for some MFA courses but isn’t what I’d call “dry” – or at least not compared to investing books (which I also like)…

    Anything by Donald Maass can be used with either a finished manuscript or a solid outline. Renni Browne’s Self Editing book is solid. I haven’t read James Scott Bell’s Revision book but it’s probably pretty good.

  5. Michael Marcus at the book making blog ( has a lot of quirky advice on publishing and writing. He favours self-publishing, but you have to know what you are getting into.

    He argues that fiction writers are more interesting at parties, but nonfiction writers drive better cars. Only a few superstar fiction writers make money,as they are competing against existing fiction. With nonfiction, you will have people searching for your work, if you cover the niche they are interested in.

    For nonfiction, journalism courses are good. You are forced think about the structure of your text, and you have rules to follow. This would be useful for the style of writing on a blog. But it is not useful for fiction.

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