A Writer’s Retirement… Or Lack Thereof?June 24th, 2008 by Michael Kwan
Oh, retirement. For some people, it means the end of working for the man and finally being able to enjoy life without restraint. No longer will you need to wake up early each morning, put on a monkey suit, or sit in a cubicle all day long. No longer do you have to deal with the day-to-day tasks related to raising a family, because the kids are probably all grown up and having families of their own. Maybe you can finally take that world cruise that you’ve been dreaming about all these years.
Sounds pretty appealing, right? Although freelance writers lead a slightly different existence than those who hold conventional jobs, they are just as inclined to yearn for the day when they can retire. Writing can be fun, but it has its frustrating (and even infuriating) moments at times. Retirement can offer reprieve and escape from these unpleasantries.
The Mind of a Writer
Let’s face it. While a livable — or even impressive — income can be earned as a freelancer, most people who get into this business don’t do so for the money. It’s because they love to write. I enjoy playing with new gadgets all day and then expressing my opinion on them. I enjoy writing these blog posts, not only because it organizes my thoughts, but also because I know that there are people out there who actually care to read my thoughts. That’s gratifying above and beyond the money side of things.
When you work for a company, you could be forced into retirement at a certain age. Even if you are not, conventional wisdom and social pressures will lead you to punch out that time card for the last time at some point. However, when you run your own business (like a freelance writer), there isn’t the same kind of social pressure and there is no such thing as forced retirement. You can call it quits at 30 just as easily as you can call it quits at 80. Even so, for a writer who loves writing, there’s no reason to hang ‘em up at the age of 30.
What Would Retirement Entail?
A writer’s retirement would be no different than anyone else’s. Presumably, a writer would want to take a few vacations and travel the world. Maybe they’d like to move permanently to somewhere with sunnier climes. Perhaps they’d join a few local social clubs and learn how to play lawn bowling.
The biggest critical difference between the retirement of a freelance writer and the retirement of someone else is that the former will not have a company pension plan, presumably, on which to live out his or her golden years. A person with a regular job should still have a savings plan in place above and beyond what their employer may offer, but at least the company pension is there. For a freelancer, they’ve only got themselves. This is much the same scenario as with sick days.
Before a writer can retire, just like any other entrepreneur, a fairly significant nest egg will need to have been developed and sustained.
Why Writers Can Never Really Retire
Writers write because they love to write. It doesn’t matter if it’s writing about technology, public affairs, or anything else. Writing is a passion. In this way, while freelance writers and authors may start to ramp down their level of production as they enter their golden years, I find it unlikely that writers ever truly retire. I plan on blogging for the rest of my life (assuming that blogs still exist), even if I don’t earn another dime. Not that I’d be opposed to getting an extra dollar or two along the way.
This post is in response to Handing out Headlines by Nick of RomanDock.com.
Filed under Freelance Writing.