Tell Your Story: How to finally Write That Novel

Tell Your Story: How to finally Write That Novel

January 06, 2022
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For some, retirement is a time to indulge their wanderlust. For others, it’s about giving back to their community. And for a certain set of brave souls, retirement can be a time to finally put the sum of their life stories, dreams, and creative inclinations to paper.

The Power of Community

If you’ve always dreamed of writing a novel or memoir, it’s never too early or too late to get started. Maybe you want to record your story for your children and grandchildren. Or, maybe a fiction story has been percolating in your head for years. Regardless of what type of book you’d like to create, writing can be a rewarding activity during a season of life when the intense time commitments of work and childrearing are behind you. One of the best ways to hone your craft and stay motivated is to find a local or online writing group. A solid community gives you support and guidance to get started and the push to keep going if your story feels like it’s stagnating. Connecting with other writers is a great way to help you improve, stay accountable, and maintain the gumption to keep writing.

50,000 Words in 30 Days

You might have heard of the organization NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, a time when amateur writers of all skill levels commit to writing a book in 30 days. This annual writing challenge began in 1999 with a simple premise: Could you write a novel—or 50,000 words—in 30 days? Since then, the organization has expanded into a creative movement with hundreds of thousands of writers participating in challenges throughout the year.1

If the idea of writing your book in a month sounds daunting, remember that anything over 50,000 words is considered a novel. When you break it down into a daily word count, 50,000 words becomes about 1,667 words a day, or roughly 4–5 typed pages. The secret is committing to spend a couple of hours a day to focus and get words onto the page (you will come back later to refine your draft).1


If you like the idea of joining a digital community, you can learn more by searching for National Novel Writing Month. There, you can track your progress with their word count tracker, write notes about your novel, and connect with other writers for encouragement.1

Regardless of whether you’re writing for others or just for yourself, dedicating intentional time to your literary ambitions can be deeply rewarding. Good luck and happy writing!

Late-in-Life Writers

Just because you didn’t spend your teens and twenties writing like F. Scott Fitzgerald doesn’t mean that your writing dreams can’t come true. Plenty of successful writers didn’t get started writing until later in life. For example:

  • Bram Stoker: The writer of the classic novel Dracula didn’t publish until he was 50, while he was helping run the Lyceum Theatre in London. He wrote novels and reviews on the side after leaving civil service.2
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: The author of the beloved Little House on the Prairie series didn’t start writing until her mid-sixties at the encouragement of her daughter.3
  • Millard Kaufman: His first novel, Bowl of Cherries, was published when he turned 90, proving it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.4
  • Babette Hughes: She wrote her first novel in her late 80s and branched out from writing her memoirs to complicated spy thrillers at 98 years of age.5

1. NaNoWriMo.org, 2021
2. IrishPost.com, May 26, 2021
3. BusinessInsider.com, April 22, 2020
4. GroveAtlantic.com, 2021
5. MarketWatch.com, June 5, 2020

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