Writing Tips at GarySpeer.com

Tips for writers and musing about writing and life

Do writers ever retire? How would you define ‘retirement’ as a writer?


On one of the three forums I visit regularly, this one related to affiliate marketing, there’s a discussion thread started by someone everyone there respects. This person has been doing affiliate marketing more or less full-time for several years and just explained in this discussion thread that he’s selling off his websites and shutting down his affiliate marketing business to start a new full-time “off line” career.

He said he’s simply reached a point in his life and his family’s life where “retiring” from affiliate marketing for a serious, regular career (he did not explain what that career is) was best for him and his family — citing the unpredictable and changing nature of affiliate marketing in the last couple of years.

That started me thinking about the very idea of retirement or retiring as a writer. Would that mean I quit writing? Would that mean I might continue writing but not doing it for publication?

Assuming you’re reading this as a writer, how do you think about retirement and your writing? If you’re successfully publishing and making either a part-time or full-time living from your writing, can you imagine a time when you would no longer, BY CHOICE, do your writing?

I emphasize that “by choice” aspect because I can envision no longer writing if I literally, physically or mentally (or both) could no longer write.

But choosing not to write? That’s a bit harder. For one thing, writing is on many levels a sort of “life insurance” for me: Writing keeps me young, keeps me hopeful, keeps me alive in many ways. And I’ll bet there’s every chance that writing seems a lot like that to most of you reading this, too.

In recent months, one of my all-time favorite writers died, Robert B. Parker. If you’re a mystery fan, I highly recommend his Spenser series of novels. Mr. Parker, whom I never had the privilege of meeting, was a consummate pro. I read a story about him after his death that said he felt like one of the luckiest writers alive. He was teaching English at a small university and wrote his first novel, sent it off to a publisher with a short note something like, “I wrote this and wondered whether you’d be interested in buying it.” The story said that book was bought by the first publisher he sent it to — and every novel he ever wrote was sold quickly. Most of them were best-sellers.

Robert Parker died the way I think I’d like to go: He had a sudden heart attack and literally died at his keyboard working on a novel. (Well, I’m not thrilled about the heart attack part; I’d rather just doze off, nestled down on the sofa for a nap, and wake up in Heaven. Yeah, that’d do it for me.)

I wouldn’t know how to “retire” as a writer, would you?