Laurie’s career as a systems analyst was winding down.
Her two daughters were grown and out of the house, and Laurie’s husband, Aaron, was still enjoying his career in corporate sales. It could have been a lonely transition for Laurie, moving from the day-to-day work world to a life of gardening and bridge clubs.
“It wasn’t something I even thought about,” Laurie tells me from her home in San Francisco.
“Instead of being worried about the transition, I was excited. In fact, it was the most excitement I’d experienced since the birth of my children,” Laurie says with a guilty smile.
“I’d been wanting to be a writer for as far back as I can remember. Now, it was my time.”
Laurie had piled up dozens of stories over the years, along with lots of life experience, and she was ready and excited to share her stories with the world.
Not that starting a new career is easy.
“When you’ve completely changed your focus after so many years your brain needs to get rewired,” Laurie told me. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you need to realize you may not be able to do it alone.”
That’s when Laurie turned to me. Here are five tips I gave Laurie to help jumpstart her second career as a writer.
Brush up on your skills
Don’t start out by jumping into a novel. Read a book on the craft of writing, join a writing group, and practice. Now that you’ve rediscovered the joy of writing in your mind, rediscover it on the page. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your new writing career won’t be either.
Set reachable writing goals
To write a complete novel requires building up your writing muscle. If you start out by giving yourself a long project, chances are you won’t finish. You wouldn’t go out to run a 10K or a marathon without building yourself up to do it. The same goes for writing. Build up your novel writing muscle by writing short stories, then possibly a novella before tackling a longer project.
Write every day
Even if you only write a few paragraphs, get your mind in the habit of practicing this new discipline of writing every day.
Build a community
Find other writers with similar goals you can talk to about writing. In your prior job there were co-workers you could talk to about your victories and your challenges. You need that with your new writing career as well—even if it’s just one person. Having a community will make the journey easier.
Seek the support of your friends and family
This is different than a community. Surround yourself with friends and family who support your dream to become a writer, who want to see you get that short story or novel published. No matter how excited you are about your new career, there are going to be down days, and a solid support group will help you push through.
If Laurie’s story strikes a nerve with you; if you are a mama or a papa and have thoughts of writing a novel, non-fiction book, or memoir, let me help you. There are things you need to know to succeed as a writer in 2017 and beyond. Grab my free cheat sheet: 7 Proven Steps To Self-Publishing Success. Learn self-publishing tips from successful pros such as Hugh Howey, Barbara Freethy and others.
E. Van Lowe is the award-wining, bestselling author of Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel, the first two books in the Falling Angels Saga. He was 55 plus when he wrote both of these books. He is also a USC trained writing coach who’s helped dozens reach their potential as published and money earning writers.