Why do retired people write books?

retired people


Authors, especially Indie authors, fall into three groups.

1. People who are working day jobs and writing on the side when they are off work.

2. Retired people who decide to pursue writing in their golden years, and,

3. People who make enough money writing books that they do so as their main source of income.

Those in the first group usually are in the age group of 20-59 or so.

Those in group 2 are the 59 and older crowd.

Group 3 is statistically so small that they don’t count.

You think I’m kidding about group 3?

I’m not.

The data doesn’t lie.

Making enough money writing books to support oneself happens to about 0.01 per cent of the writing population.

It’s not a good bet.

Group 1 does the writing thing because they think it sounds like fun.

Group 3 does it because it is fun.  Making money is always fun.

So what about group 2?

That’s me and about a million other chronologically gifted people.

Group 2, the old folks who come to writing late, does it for one reason.

They are tired of people telling them what to do.

They have toed the party line, doing what is expected of them, for thirty or forty years.

That’s long enough.

So they hang up their business suits and sit down at a keyboard.

When they get there they pour out a lifetime of experience on the page.

That doesn’t mean they are any good at putting words on paper.

That’s all right.

The way we look at it is that we learned how to do other things, things that were hard, even impossible in the estimation of others, and writing is no different.

Put a mountain in our path and we will climb it.

Tell us it can’t be done, and we’ll do it.

If, in fact, we can’t hope to make much money writing, then we are left with the purest of motivations: we do it because we want to, because we feel we have something to say and we want to express it.

It’s not a selfish motivation.

We want our kids to hear what we have to say.

We want our grand kids to read our words twenty years from now.

We want to get things off our chest.

We have lived great stories, seen them, heard them, met the people who gave them flesh.

Who would be better suited than we to memorialize them on paper?

And by the way the word retired is a misnomer.

Old people just don’t work the same jobs they did back in the day.

Rather they take on a new job, and they work it as if there is no tomorrow.

Because tomorrow may not come.

For us.



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  • Caleb Pirtle

    Stephen, I believe that a lot of retired people write books because they have active, creative minds and don’t want to give up the race, quit work, and go off to waste away. They are alive, vibrant, and have met so many characters and lived through so many plots in their lives.

  • jack43

    That’s a pretty good list you put together there, but did I miss the #1 reason why men write when they retire? (And can’t speak for women. They are different and I don’t understand them. God Knows! I don’t understand them.)

    Men retire, men die. It’s a simple fact. And widows collect the benefits.

    The only thing I retired from was commuting. Don’t miss that at all. Watch me drive today and you’ll see the origins of the phrase “Grumpy old men”.

    So, I keep active and I keep living.

    • Jack,
      And that’s the best course for all of us. I work more hours than ever, but enjoy it more. I think I will retire the word retire.

  • Roger Summers

    Group 2 folks write because their future is now and they have countless untold stories to tell.

  • James Callan

    First, how would Stephen know any of this? He’s too young to be retired. But as one of those who really is that old, I’ll add two more reasons. One is that perhaps we really wanted to write much earlier, but as Stephen pointed out, could not possibly support a
    family on it. And the other is, if we don’t do something that challenges the mind, the mind will swivel up and die. Oh, we could solve cross word puzzles, but that isn’t very creative.

    In spite of what I said, thanks, Stephen. As always, you write a great post – even if you are so young.

    • Jim,
      My youngness seems the most ephemeral of my attributes.

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