Have you ever thought about becoming a writer later in life? Well, everything is possible!
Not all accomplished authors started at the prime of their lives.
Many only began writing professionally when they reached middle age, while others became published authors in their twilight years.
The most quintessential example is Bertha Wood.
She started writing her memoirs when she was already ninety years old and published her first book Fresh Air and Fun: The Story of a Blackpool Holiday Camp on her 100th birthday!
Inspired yet? Here are my top tips to set yourself up as a writer later in life.
Top 8 Tips for Becoming a Writer Later in Life
1. Believe in Yourself
First off, you need to believe in yourself! It’s no use learning the other tips if you don’t have a strong conviction that you can do it.
The adage that says you cannot teach an old dog new tricks doesn’t apply to humans. History taught us that many people have found success in their advanced age. American folk artist and national treasure Anna Mary Robertson- Moses, more popularly known as Grandma Moses, only started painting professionally at age 78!
I know she’s not a writer, but that still proved my point that age doesn’t matter when pursuing a dream. And hey, come to think of it, many published authors only started writing a book after retirement. If they can do it, so can you!
2. Use Your Experience
It is never too late to get started as a writer. What you need to remember is that your experience in life gives you an advantage over younger writers.
You have experienced many highs and lows in life, I’m sure. Draw on these experiences to create highs and lows for your characters.
You’ve met or known many people too in your decades of existence. I’ll bet that some of those people had ‘interesting’ characteristics. You can use your observations to create fascinating and memorable characters.
You must have also read a lot more books, journals, newspapers, magazines, and even writers’ famous quotes than younger writers. Then, it’s safe to assume that you have a better understanding of the various writing genres and have seen a lot more different writing techniques you can replicate, or even improve.
3. Learn Your Craft
If you dream about becoming a writer later in life, a good place to start is by taking a class. It’s never too late to learn the fundamentals.
I would suggest you start with an English class and/or a creative writing class. You will gather a lot of useful information and tips to improve your writing. But that is not all! You will also be in a class with other writers, including your teacher.
This is a great opportunity to hear from others in the field. They will have tips about how to get published, how to market yourself, and explain what sells. This is invaluable as you get started.
During your class, you will also share your writing with your classmates and the teacher. This might sound daunting, but it’s essential to get feedback if you want to improve your writing.
You could also join a local writers’ group for the same reasons. It gives a focus to your writing and provides an opportunity to network with other writers.
4. Keep Writing
I should warn you that you might not find paid writing work straight away. Don’t let that stop you!
One of the most important things for a writer to do is to keep practicing and perfecting his or her craft. Write a little every day. This will help improve your writing and keep those creative juices flowing!
You could write a journal or try some daily creative writing exercises. If you are stuck for inspiration, check out our article on our favorite creative writing exercises for beginners.
The important thing is that you keep writing.
5. Make a Plan
If you want to make writing your career, you need to set yourself some goals.
Consider why you want to become a writer. What do you need to achieve in the literary field to consider yourself successful?
Maybe you want to make writing your full-time career. Or perhaps, you aim to write a novel and looking for a way to fit that into your schedule amid other work commitments. Whatever you want to achieve, plan, and work out how you will achieve it.
You should also set timescales and break your goal into manageable parts. Each milestone you reach will give you extra encouragement to keep working.
If you aren’t quite sure what you want to write about, start by writing about something you know. For instance, if you worked in the financial industry, start by writing articles about that.
Remember that your wealth experience is your most powerful weapon to help you in becoming a writer later in life.
6. Seek Writing Opportunities
This should be part of your plan. There are lots of different writing jobs and places where you can look for work.
Think about where you are most likely to find opportunities to write what you want to write about. Do you like traveling and discovering new places? Then, look for publications that accept freelance travel writers.
There are lots of different ways you can become a writer. You might be keen on ghostwriting or even writing a novel. Or perhaps you have a knack for writing marketing copies or press releases. Whatever you want to pursue, find wanted ads for those jobs.
There are several generic online job boards, like Upwork or Fiverr. There are also lots of online publications that accept and pay for articles, short stories, and other literary content from freelancers. This will depend on what type of writing you plan to do.
Remember, you might need to start with smaller projects before you find your dream writing job.
7. Sell Yourself
If you want to make a career out of writing, one thing is certain. You need to learn how to sell yourself.
Part of the process is building up a portfolio to establish yourself. Anyone interested in hiring you as a writer, or publishing any of your work, wants to see what you can do.
Initially, this might mean doing some work for low (or no) pay. As you demonstrate your abilities, you can concentrate on the writing you want to do.
If you are serious about becoming a writer, whether you are 17 or 70, you will need to put your writing out there.
Research the type of publications you want to write for and target them. Pitch to editors and publishers you want to work with. It will take a little time to make a name for yourself, but it is worth the hard work.
8. Get On Social Media
If you are not already on social media, make that the next thing you do when you finish reading this article!
If you want to become a writer, at some point you got to have something other people would want to read. Building a readership on social media gives you the perfect audience when you come to publish.
If you want to find an editor and publisher for a book, they will be very interested in your social media presence. Higher levels of engagement on social media will help boost sales. If you are considering self-publishing, social media will be your biggest marketing asset. What are you waiting for?
You don’t necessarily need to build a big following. But you need to take time to interact and make connections. This will give you an audience of interested followers to ‘sell’ to if/when the time comes.
It is also a great opportunity to connect with other writers – virtual networking!
Time to Get Started
Now it is your turn to write!
If you are interested in becoming a writer later in life, these tips should help you get started. You are probably writing already, so keep that up.
Once you have decided on the type of writing you want to do, you can formulate a plan to help you achieve it. Remember, social media will be a useful tool for you, as a writer. Don’t be afraid to use it.
Now it’s time to get started – I am looking forward to seeing what you create!