A message for retirees: Share your valuable experience with others

It’s often said that everyone has a story to tell. Some of us have lived exciting lives and enjoyed diverse experiences. Others feel their life has been mundane and their story is rather ordinary. However, it isn’t necessarily about the story. It’s often more about the way you tell it. You don’t need to be an expert writer to touch readers. Everyone sees the world differently. It’s the uniqueness of your voice and your perceptions that make what you write entertaining, enlightening, inspiring or thought-provoking.

If your story is of crisis, trauma or tragedy, writing it may prove cathartic. Psychologists often recommend writing about challenging experiences. Pouring out your emotions on paper can help resolve grief or anger, even if nobody sees your words but you.

Writing your story for others to read can be deeply rewarding. We can never predict how a story might affect a reader. It might shine a light on injustice and inspire campaigns for change. It might expose a solution to a reader’s problem. It might lift a sad heart, lighten a burden, or just amuse. Ultimately, even the lightest and most unlikely fiction stories deliver a lesson on life. What lessons would you like to teach?

Aspiring writers who seek mentoring, encouragement or just companionship from like-minded people might consider joining a writers’ group. There is almost certainly a group meeting somewhere near where you live, and you’ll also find many online groups. You can also find countless writing contests to enter and a host of articles, courses and books on writing technique online.

A technical and instructional writer for much of my working life, I took it as read that my retirement home would include an equipped office and a well-stocked library. I always intended that I would continue to write. When my daughter suggested I join a writers’ group that met regularly at our local library, I cringed. Expose myself to the critiques by my peers? Would I ever muster that much courage?

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Venturing timidly into the library one sunny Saturday morning — just for a sneak peek, you understand — I noted that most of the members were veteran members of the grey-hair-and-wrinkles club. Over coffee and tea, I established that few had ever done much writing before joining and all considered themselves novices at the art. Assured that their critiquing was always gentle, and their primary aim was to support and encourage, I took a deep breath, fished for the required gold coin, and signed on. That day changed my life.

Ten years on, I’ve honed my writing skills, published two novels and a dozen short stories, and made rich and deeply rewarding friendships. I’ve penned chapters of a memoir and sections of a family history that I hope will give my grandchildren both understanding of and pride in their heritage, and inspiration to strive to be the best that they can be at whatever profession they choose, and as partners, parents, and contributing members of the society in which they live.

In retirement, my days are full and my world is constantly expanding. My vocabulary grows daily, and I find myself reading critically; noticing characteristics and behaviours that would once have escaped my observation; appreciating sights, sounds, feel and smells as I never did before.

Today, anyone can be an author. Print-on-demand technology even lets you publish and market your writing globally at moderate cost. You might be surprised at who would enjoy reading your story, and why.

You may not be the next J. K. Rowling or Stephen King, but you can share your words and wisdom with the world, and by doing so, you can enrich your own life and that of others. Who knows? Your words might just ”nudge the world a little”. The pen is powerful.

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Do you have an interest in writing? Have you ever considered writing your life story?

Keen to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, to share your thoughts with other 60-pluses? You can sign up as a contributor and submit your stories to Starts at 60 here, and join the Starts at 60 Bloggers Club on Facebook here to talk to other writers in the Starts at 60 community and learn more about how to write for Starts at 60.