Five Steps To Dream A Creative Retirement

I’ve never taken a “How to retire” course or even read anything about retiring. I’ve just never seriously thought about it. Retire to what? Do something different other than tell stories? Seriously? I want to tell more stories….. (Oh, there’s a retirement project – tell more stories. Didn’t take long did it? What’s so hard about that?)

I’m a storyteller.

If I stopped doing that, what would I do? Frankly, I can’t stop telling stories – as my friends will tell you. (Give that man a beer or glass of scotch and stand back – his whole conversation is one giant story. Good friends say there’s a healthy dose of B.S. in those stories but that’s what good friends are for.)

Is There A Process To Discover Your Retirement Dream?

My “process” for this next phase of my creative career started with my fountain pens and several blank (really, really inexpensive) 250 page notebooks. And yes, it was harder than it looks and I killed a lot of trees in the process.

My creative muse – that voice in the back of my head which we may talk more about in future posts – asks, “Aren’t you going to tell them about the gallons of coffee and those forty-ouncers of scotch whisky?”

OK- lots of morning coffee and ending my day with an ounce of really good whiskey. Happy now?


I arrived at these five steps.

Every step along the way – every tiny step towards each of the five big steps – gets written down in morning notes.

The Five Steps

#1 Reimagine myself – dream wildly with zero limitations.

#2 Reinvent myself to those dreams. Who is it I must become? How must I behave?

#3 Re-educate myself – it isn’t going to happen without work of some kind.

#4 Rebuild based on #1, #2 and #3

#5 Relaunch and do those things or be that person (one small step at a time)

A sixth step – but you’ve figured this out already- is to constantly check and recheck and evaluate. This is a two steps forward, one step backwards kind of change.

And My Retirement?

Stay tuned, it’s already in progress.

You can follow along by subscribing here. (And yeah, there’s a link at the bottom of every note.)

From Full to 300 In A Single Generation

I’ve been thinking about the Net these past few weeks and how it has changed in the over 25 years I’ve been writing online.

My first website was registered on October 15, 1997.

A European-trained head gardener (that man had forgotten more than I knew) and I were chatting about the Net and how he didn’t think it was possible to explain complicated garden procedures in 1000 words or less. (note: 1000 words was the Google-recommended length of post back then)

I agreed with him but it was my job to try.

Twenty-five years later, I’m that guy and you now only have 300 words or a one-minute video.

From books and full magazine articles to 300 words in a generation.

This – by the way – isn’t a complaint. It’s an observation about how things change. And how those of us who create for a living have to constantly adapt or ….

Five Creative Rules I Live By

There are five creative rules I work (and live) by. I don’t expect you to agree with me on these and I do expect you’ll have your own.

Rule #1 Kill Your Darlings

When an article or post (or any writing) doesn’t work, the odds are there’s a word, line or paragraph in the post that’s wrong. And usually, it’s my favourite word or paragraph and I really hate to edit or modify it.

So I don’t. I delete the damn thing and be done with it.

And 99% of the time, this solves the problem.

Rule #2 Change Is Inevitable

What worked yesterday is no guarantee readers will like it today. Or, even that readers will find it today (I’m talking to you, Google Search.) Things change so fast online, I’ve finally given up even trying to figure it all out.

My change is not giving a damn what Facebook or Google (or even you) think about what I write. I’ve worked to be in sync with all those things for too many years. Now, I’m only writing and creating for me.

Rule #3: Leap and the Safety Net Will Appear.

This is a question of faith in your own abilities and making the decision that you’ll survive no matter what happens around you.

I’m in the middle of leaping (again) and it’s a gut-churning thing.

Rule #4: Stop Digging Your Own Hole

This can be a tough one. I lived with my gardening sites doing this.

  • “If I try this one thing – Google Search will love me again.”
  • “If I set up the website following these directions, I’ll increase my search engine traffic.”
  • “I just have to pay Amazon more to sell more books.”

I dug that pit working to get things right for far too long and I do regret that time and misplaced effort.

Rule #5: Creators Set Their Own Limits

There’s no guideline that says, “Do this and wait X time and you’ll know.” We’ve all heard about the writer or creator that spent 30 years working away in poverty only to be discovered on his deathbed. And we’ve read stories about the wonder-kind that stormed the creative bastions as a teenager.

You’ll be the one to say “stop” or “full speed ahead” as the creative spirit moves you.

Post it Notes

I have these posted and stuck to the wall over my desk.

Feel free to copy these, edit them to suit yourself and work by them.

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