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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