From Retiree to Writer: One Author’s Journey

When I took early retirement, I had an idea that I wanted to write a book. However, when faced with the drastic change from intense 9- to 12-hour workdays to full retirement mode, I went through a few phases before I settled into a retirement that worked for me: Recreation, Responsiveness, and Routine.

First, RECREATION. Suddenly, I had time on my hands. So, I played video games on my iPad. Too many video games. Far too many.

My next phase was RESPONSIVENESS. It was an election year, and I discovered that I had strong political feelings which, as a retiree, I now had the time and energy to share on social media. So, I responded to political posts. Too many political posts. Far too many.

Ultimately, I knew I had to cut way down on the things in my life that wore me down instead of raising me up. I needed structure to my day if I wanted to accomplish anything. So, I entered my third phase of retirement: ROUTINE. I realized that I had been wasting my days on video games and social media, and it was time to do something constructive. I created a daily routine for myself so I could actually write my book, instead of just talking about it. Returning to my pre-retirement practice of getting up early every morning, I found it was easier to resist the snooze button when I had a project that excited me. If I had to schedule appointments, I always said, “We’ll have to find an afternoon opening, because I work mornings.” I didn’t tell them that I was retired and my time was my own. I didn’t say that my work was “just” writing so I could come in any time. I just said, “I work mornings.” Finally, I was acting like a serious, professional writer instead of like a retiree.

The result was writing my first book, which was accepted by my favorite publishing house, Future Horizons, Inc. There were a few more steps I had to take before I reached the goal of being a published author, though. Here were my steps to

  1. PREPARING I dug into my topic and gathered together all the resources I might need, from files of website links on my laptop to piles of books around my desk.
  2. PLANNING I outlined my book and broke it down into sections and chapters. Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write by Elizabeth Lyon was particularly helpful. After downloading the author submission guidelines from the websites of my targeted publishing companies, I was ready to propose.
  3. PROPOSAL I carefully and thoughtfully wrote a book proposal, following the guidelines of Lyon’s book, but slightly modified when necessary to fit the expectations of each publishing company. I wrote 3 sample chapters as requested, then I rewrote them, ran them past some trusted readers for their suggestions, and rewrote the chapters again. Finally, when the proposal and sample chapters were as good as I could make them, I sent the proposal package to my three favorite publishers.
  4. POUNDING THE KEYS Two of the three publishers offered me contracts, and I chose my favorite and signed with Future Horizons, Inc. Now it was time to get down to work. Remember, I only had the first 3 chapters written so far, and they wanted the full book within 6 months. I created a calendar on my computer and filled in each date with the chapter I wanted to complete that day. Taking weekends off gave me leeway, knowing that if something came up and I fell behind during the week I could make it up on Saturday or Sunday. Then it was just a question of sticking to my schedule, sitting down at the computer first thing every morning, and working for 4 to 6 hours straight. The rest of the day was for family, friends and fun, but my mornings were strictly for writing.
  5. PUBLICATION Keeping on my schedule meant I could send the manuscript to my publisher on time. Now, the manuscript has been turned in, accepted, and my publication date is 6/15/2018.

At last, a published writer! Now that the ball is in the publisher’s court, it’s time for me to turn toward marketing this book and planning the next one. I have a couple of ideas about what I want to write next. Do you have any suggestions for future book topics? I can’t wait to get started!

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