Have you ever wondered what goes on in the mind of a writer? Today, I’m taking a short break from writing about retirement (come back next week if that’s what you care about). I’m pulling back the curtain to my brain. I’ll share why I love writing this blog, and how I go about it on a weekly basis. I hope you’ll enjoy my perspective on what Being A Writer means to me. In the conclusion, I’ll make some application to your retirement and encourage you to find something which challenges you in the same way that writing challenges me.
It’s Time To Admit: I Am A Writer.Today, A Look Inside My Head. The Head Of A Writer. Click To Tweet
Side Note: I’ve been “sitting” on this draft for months. Why? In short, it’s not my “typical” subject matter, and I was hesitant to publish something so far away from my normal “retirement” topic. I didn’t want to turn off my readers, who come here to learn about retirement planning. Today, I decided to take a chance. If you don’t like the approach, feel free to come back next week (just don’t unsubscribe, please!). I promise there are a LOT more retirement articles in my draft folder, and that topic will continue to be the focus on my blog.
If, however, you’ve ever been intrigued to know what’s inside my head, read on.
In 3 1/2 years of writing on this blog, I’ve discovered that I love to write. However, I’ve never written about how it feels to write. “On Being A Writer” shares my perspective on what it means to be a writer, and opens the curtains on how I go about writing posts for this site.I've written 240 posts on this blog, but I've never written about being a writer. Today, I'm changing that. #IAmAWriter. Click To Tweet
Today, some overdue words on being a writer.
On Being A Writer
A writer who is truly brilliant wrote a book about writing. His book captured my attention, and I couldn’t put it down.
If you enjoy writing and/or reading, Stephen King’s On Writing is a must read. It’s an amazing insight into the mind of a brilliant writer. Where he writes, how he thinks of ideas, how he edits his work. The story behind the story of some of his greatest novels. Some tips for other writers to improve their writing.
I devoured every word.
I’ll never pretend to be anywhere near the writer that Stephen King is, but his words have inspired me.
He made me realize that I, too, am a writer.
He made me think about the process of writing, and what it is about the act of writing that I love. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, so I decided to flatter Mr. King and share my own thoughts on being a writer.
Writing is an art. Just as painters all paint differently, writers all write differently. The one thing we all have in common?
We write.On Being A Writer is an insight into the writer's mind, and the process I go through to write these weekly posts. Click To Tweet
Writing At Its Core
It’s odd that all of you have the opportunity to read every word I’ve ever written, but none of you have actually been with me when I write. What goes through my mind when I write? How do I develop ideas for this blog? How do I write? I’m excited to share some insights on that topic.
Writing is, at its core, a creative act of communication.
The communication of a thought, transmitted electronically, from my mind to yours. All done via the power of the written word. Pretty amazing when you stop to think about it. Telepathy, in a sense (telepathy is a theme I picked up in Stephen King’s book which I “connected” with). A thought from my head to yours, without a word being spoken. Cool, right?
The power of the written word is something that’s been with us since the first coherent texts were written back in 2600 BC. Today, just like thousands of years ago, the written word is a powerful form in which the writer (me, in this case!) is able to communicate a thought the reader (you, in this case!).
I love the power of the written word.
The Two Things I Love Most About Writing
First, I love the challenge of developing a thought into a cohesive idea. The idea, once generated, must be developed into a concept, a story built on a foundation of words. Most importantly, it must end as a finished product which is worthy of reading.
I’ll call this The Challenge of The Game. Creating a thought, then putting it into words which stimulate, entertain, cause you to think and, ultimately, drive you to action.
Second, I love to connect with people and the feeling of making an impact in people’s lives. I also love the blogging community and the hundreds of friends I have met through this passion project called The Retirement Manifesto. I’ve decided to name this element The Power Of Connection.
Combined, these two elements of writing are what bring me joy as a writer.
Let’s look at each of them.
1. The Challenge Of The Game
Imagine being a blogger, and trying to come up with an idea for your next post. Ok, now build on that seed of an idea. Find a way to weave it into a story. Think about the outline. Then, imagine sitting at your keyboard, and putting words to all of the ideas floating around in your brain. Write it well, because thousands of readers will “hear” those words.
That picture is my life as a writer.
The game of writing is a challenging game. It causes me to think. It gives my (over) active mind something to ponder on throughout the day. It’s food for my brain, and I love it.
If Stephen King’s theory of “writing as telepathy” is correct, you may be visualizing the process I outlined in the first paragraph of this section. You get a certain mental image about a situation by the words that you read. It does seem a sort of telepathy, though I’d never thought of it that way until I read Mr. King’s “On Writing”.
The Challenge Of The Game is a perfect mental exercise for me in retirement. If you’re looking for a way to challenge your mind, consider taking up writing.
1a. Getting In The FlowWhat's the writing process really like? Today, I'll attempt to explain the pleasure of Being In The Flow. Click To Tweet
The greatest feeling as a writer is when you get “In The Flow”. It happens frequently, and it’s a phenomenon that I love. The Flow is a mental state where you no longer think about what you’re writing. It’s almost as if the keyboard has a direct link to your brain. You think, and it appears on your screen. At times, you can’t type fast enough to keep up with your thoughts. The Flow can become a flood. Run with it. And smile.
I learned early on to embrace The Flow. Go with the current, and see where it takes you. More often than not, I end up somewhere entirely different than where I had intended to go. When you’re in The Flow, don’t edit. Just write. Let your brain cruise for as long as you can ride the wave (I’ve had The Flow last as long as an hour).
Write. Write. Write.
Once the words are down, I take a break before I edit. I typically spend more time editing than I do writing my first draft. I never publish an article which I haven’t edited at least 3 times. Try as I might, I’m still amazed how I often find an odd typo or two after I hit “publish”. Frustrating, that.
But, The Flow. Oh, The Flow.
It’s one of the true joys of writing.Getting in The Flow is one of the true pleasures of being a writer. It's as if the keyboard were directly linked to your brain. Click To Tweet
2. The Power Of Connection
The second thing I most love about writing is The Power Of Connection. One of the big changes that come with retirement is our connection to the outside world. For decades, we’ve been interacting with folks on a daily basis in the workplace. Human connection is a good thing, and it’s important to find a way to build and establish relationships in retirement.
For me, that connection comes from writing.
Helping People Achieve A Great Retirement isn’t just my byline. It’s why I write. I enjoy the satisfaction that comes from the many personal notes I get from you, the reader. The stories you tell me about how my writing is making a difference in your life. That is the fuel that runs my writing machine.
Sure, I love the process of writing, but I love the impact I’m making in people’s lives even more.
I’ve met many readers through the years, and I’ve felt connected to each and every one. We share something in common, and it creates a strong connection.
The second form of connection comes through the blogging community. The power of this community was an unexpected surprise early in my blogging career, and it’s a part of writing that I treasure. I know hundreds of fellow bloggers, and I count many as good friends. Each of us has a common bond, and it creates powerful friendships.
We’re here because we love to write.
My Favorite Memories From Writing This Blog:
To close this post, I thought it’d be fun to share a few of my favorite memories from the past 3 1/2 years of writing this blog:
My Favorite Post:
I’ve written 240 posts to date, and I didn’t even hesitate when I thought about which have been my favorite to write.
From a personal perspective, the post I wrote as a tribute to my father means more to me than anything I’ve written. In 18 Lessons I Learned From My Dad: A Tribute, I was able to share some insight on the man who means so much in my life. We often fail to let those folks who mean the most to us know how we truly feel about them. That post gave me the opportunity to let my Dad know how the things he had done through my life had positively influenced me, and it was my most rewarding post to write.
From a broader perspective, The Veteran is the post I’m most proud of. To be able to pay back, in some small measure, for the service Don Mathews gave to this country was a rewarding moment. Not only were the words a lot of fun to craft, but telling “The Back Story” behind that post gave me a chance to put into writing the best encounter I ever had in my 1 Million Miles of flying. Thanks for your service, Don. I’m glad we’ve become friends.
My Best Reader Interaction:
Back in early 2017, I received an email from a reader named Stan. He mentioned that he was going to be in Atlanta and asked if I’d be interested in meeting up for lunch. We met shortly after and had a great lunch together. Turns out Stan is a Doctor who flies airplanes over forest fires as a hobby (if you want some great stories about dumping fire retardant over forest fires from an airplane, check out his blog at cafmustang.com).
Stan isn’t the reason this was my favorite reader interaction, however. That honor would come later when Stan told me the story of his Mom and Dad, who had nothing saved at Age 49 yet retired at Age 65.
That evening, I had an incredible phone call Stan’s Mom and Dad and wrote about the experience in It’s Never Too Late. Thanks for that lunch, Stan. Even more, thanks for introducing me to your Mom and Dad. They’re wonderful people, and you’re a lucky son!
The Favorite Words I’ve Written:
I’ve written a LOT of words on this blog, and I thought it’d be fun to add a few of my favorites to this post. These were the first that came to mind:
- “This is the story of my journey, told in The Present before it becomes The Past.” (my very first post)
- “His name is my name, and my name is his.” (The Uncle)
- “Many have told me that I’ve become my Father. If that’s the case, I’m sincerely honored.” (A Tribute To My Dad)
- “Should I or Shouldn’t I? I Should. I Did.” (The Veteran)
- “Today Is My Last Day Of Work.” (A Retirement, Well Done)
My Future As A Writer
When I started this blog back in April 2015, I had no idea where the journey would lead me. I never expected that I would write an article every week for 3 1/2 years. I never dreamed of the…
- …places my writing would take me.
- …friends I’d make.
- ….awards I’d win.
- …things I’d learn.
Of the Passion I would find.
As I write these words in November 2018, I still have no idea where this journey will lead me.
I suspected my writing would slow a bit when I retired earlier this year. It hasn’t.
I suspect my writing may slow a bit when we launch our Great American Road Trip in the summer of 2019 (stay tuned for details, we have BIG plans!!). It might.
I’ve learned to enjoy the journey. I’ve learned to Go With The Flow. I’ve learned to not let a Passion become an Obligation (see 10 Commandments of Retirement). I make no promises that my weekly writing will continue uninterrupted. My life is about so much more than writing, though writing has become an enjoyable part of it. I suspect I’ll continue to write, but one never knows where this journey will lead.
I appreciate all of you who have been on this journey with me, and I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s peek inside my head (comments, please? The exchange in the comments is something I truly enjoy).
As you plan for your retirement, explore areas that may provide a Purpose for your Life. You never know what’s going to be a good fit, and that’s ok. Be open to exploration. I never expected writing would develop into the passion that it’s become, but I found it because I was willing to explore. I’m lucky to have found something that checks three of the critical boxes for a great retirement:
- Mental Challenge
- Helping People
One Thing Is Certain: I love to write.
I Am A Writer.