“I am of the firm belief that everybody could write books and I never understand why they don’t.” Beryl Bainbridge
As a writing coach and author, I do understand why. The two main reasons are related: lack of confidence in what they have to say, and not knowing how to start. That is why I set aside time to write a step by step guide that would lead a first-time writer through the whole process of planning, researching, writing, publishing and selling their own book.
But here, I want to convince you why you should, and I’m ‘talking’ mainly about non-fiction books: memoirs, travelogues, family histories, biographies, local histories, self-help, special interests such as gardening, music or sport… any kind of non-fiction, the range is huge.
Those of us who have reached sixty have a special advantage. True, we tend to have more time to do the things we want to do, but there is something more important than that when it comes to writing books. Not until we have experienced the first 50+ years of life’s trials and triumphs do we gain the deeper perspectives we can share with others. Whatever we’ve been doing up to that point, our lives do not stop at sixty: this is the time we are in full blossom. We have insights into where we have been, what we have been doing and why, and we possess expertise of value to others. But writing also offers many benefits to ourselves.
So here are my five compelling reasons why you should write a book:
You’d be surprised how many people are inspired and entertained by your favourite topic; look at the rack upon rack of special interest and hobby magazines in newsagents – the people who buy them are your potential readers, too. Pets, sport, craft, food, tracing our ancestors – the field is wide open. By doing so, you will revive and enrich your own enjoyment of your favourite activities.
Emigrating, gardening, travelling, technical, professional, and business know-how, or coping with personal crises. Whatever your adventures or personal challenges, sharing the knowledge can help and encourage readers, while enabling you to gain new perspectives on your achievements.
Memories and the wisdom of elders are precious, and too easily lost, leaving young people feeling rootless. Life is changing so fast, our children and grandchildren need to know where they came from and to understand the values that are worth hanging on to. If we don’t tell them, who will?
A memoir, documentary or set of case studies are all possible ways of sharpening the profile, raising funds, or increasing volunteer participation, e.g. for disability groups, animal welfare, or the environment in your own country and elsewhere. One of the advantages of retirement and the extra time that goes with it, is our opportunity to make a difference and better the lives of others. Writing a book is a permanent contribution towards that goal.
To write a well-crafted book is enormously rewarding; it leaves a heritage for others and it will keep you out of mischief for a considerable time. More importantly, it is a fun way to keep our brains active and ‘supple’. Remember: use it or lose it.
I hope I have inspired you to write, and offer you Writing Your Nonfiction Book: The Complete Guide to Becoming an Author, to show you how.
I look forward to reading your book!
Dr. Trish Nicholson, writer and social anthropologist, has 30 years experience as an author of narrative non-fiction. Her published works include travelogues, writing skills, popular science, and management. She lives in New Zealand and writes in her tree-house. You can read her blog posts here and follow her on Twitter.