November 12, 2018

Retirement and Blogging: What Do They Share?


After eight years, blogging continues to be satisfying. Even I am surprised I haven't run out of things to write about. I have found a schedule that seems to work for me. But, there are days when I stare at the blank computer screen and wonder how I am going to fill the page.

Inspiration disappears for a period of time. The creative well seem to be empty. There is a little flood of panic. Then, something worth committing to words eventually starts to flow and I relax.


Is retirement much different? Don't we experience times when we are simply going through the motions? There is a predictable, comfortable routine to the day. Nothing really new or interesting happens. There are no problems we can't handle without a little effort. Inspiration is taking a break. Life moves forward.

I thought it might be interesting to draw comparisons between where I turn for blogging inspiration and how I find new energy for whatever might be next in retirement.


Pay attention & shake it up

One of my best sources for blogging topics is to stop long enough to look at the world around me. What in my life might give me inspiration? Old photos,  movies, a play or theater presentation, a headline in the newspaper, mementos around the house, the birds in the backyard, people at the mall, actually just about anything can inspire if my mood is right and I'm open to seeing things in a new way.

Building a satisfying retirement works the same. Looking for a new angle or use of the everyday, meeting a new person or having a new experience, any of these can energize an otherwise mundane day. I might read something in a magazine that changes my perspective. Betty and I decide to try a restaurant we have never been to. Shaking up a routine or attempting to break an unproductive habit can be just the boost I need to get moving again.

Sometimes you just have to act

When a deadline is approaching and there is nothing ready to go, I must force myself to write. I go through files of idea starters, other blogs, even random Google searches on topics that I think might interest readers. Eventually something clicks. If I have a good title, then I will usually just start writing and an hour later a post has taken shape. There is still time required to strengthen weak parts, cut out unnecessary words, spell check, and select a photo. But, if the bulk of the post is done I can relax.

That process is the same for anything in your life that is worthwhile. There will be times when you must force yourself to take action. It would be easier and more pleasant to avoid whatever it is. But, the problem isn't going away until you confront it. Whether this is a relationship issue, a health concern, a financial upset, or even where to go on vacation, you may have to simply grit your teeth and do something. 

Look for something fresh from others 

On a regular basis I read a half a dozen other blogs a day. I like what the writer is saying or I think the information is useful to me. I find inspiration and topic ideas galore from others who spend their time in front of a keyboard. Many write substantially more words than I do, so there must be something I can learn.

Your daily life isn't different. Inspiration often comes from an outside source. Interacting with other people may be an effective way to find an answer to a problem. They may not directly address what your need is. But, by simply being with them you may find a new path toward something. Being with a group of people you enjoy can't help but make you feel better.


Maybe you simply need a retread



Dip your bucket into the well....you may be surprised!
When all else fails and my blogging well is dry, I'll take an older post that I've already written and find a way to freshen it up. Maybe I can add some new or additional information. Maybe my original premise is no longer valid and I can discuss how my thinking has changed. Possibly providing links to other blogs will give the reader a fresh take on the subject. A new photo can help.

Reusing or reworking something you have done before is really what retirement is all about. A lifetime of behavior and expectations are up for review. Just because you thought one way while working doesn't mean that line of thought is best for your life now. Was there an interest or hobby you used to love that fell by the wayside? Is it time to bring it back, maybe in a slightly different way? When you were 30 you loved to mountain bike. But, now at 60, maybe trail riding is safer and more suited to your body.  You still love to bike, but you change the approach.


Writing a blog and building a satisfying retirement are not that different. Both require some of the same skills. Maybe that is why so many blogs are being started by retired folks. One tends to reinforce the other!

21 comments:

  1. Hi Bob! I completely agree. Blogging, like life, encourages me to keep staying aware of what I am reading, seeing and hearing in the world around me and then doing my best to share it with my followers. I am a bit quirky so my focus is a bit different than others but I know that there are enough people out in the blogosphere who appreciate my input. I have also found a schedule that works well in my life. And isn't retirement or life itself like that! Keep writing because I know there are many of us who appreciate what you have to say. ~Kathy

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    1. Blogging forces me to stay engaged, as does retirement. Nerither works as well if I take a "what will be will be" attitude.

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  2. Interesting perspective. One thing I like about blogging is that it helps you pay attention to the world. There have been any number of times when something -- an idea, a conversation, something I've seen or read -- might have just washed over me, and then I thought: wait a second, I could write a post about that. And then I wake up and look closer and do some research, and what do you know, I've just enriched my life and -- to borrow a phrase, created a more satisfying retirement!

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    1. I often have the same experience. Something that seems completely unconnected with retirement will seem like an interesting angle to follow, and there is a post ready to be written. Give me a headline or a theme and I am good to go!

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    2. I agree with you and Tom. I blog for several reasons - to keep a journal of our travel adventures, to develop and maintain relationships with others and as an outlet for my creative writing passion. On a number of occasions, I've done some in-depth research on a topic to educate myself to a point where I can write about it confidently and intelligently. My experience has been the same as Tom's - this type of research tends to enrich my life in many different ways.

      The same is true for retirement. There is so much to learn through reading, research and social connections that the time spent on these activities always makes for a happy and satisfying day - and often leads to new and wonderful adventures, both large and small.

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  3. I agree blogging helps us stay engaged with the world. I also like what you said about cutting out unnecessary words. My favorite tip? Go through your draft and look for the word, "that." See if you really need it. Sometimes you do for clarity, but in many cases, you can simply delete it.

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    1. A good example? I am putting out a 2nd edition of one of my books. I edited it at least two dozen times. Every time I found ways to tighten the narrative. Are there still unnecessary words? I am willing to bet on it!

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  4. I don't blog but I enjoy your blog and many others that I have connected to through your Satisfying Retirement BlogSpot. Your blog and others help to keep me relevant. If I recall correctly, how do you keep relevant? was a title of someone's blog. Like you, one of my purposes is to engage in life. Leading a value-based, purposeful life elevates the day-to-day. That was the gist of Kathy's SMART Living 365 blog last week. Like you, I aim to enrich my life at every stage.

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    1. Starting my podcasts a few months ago may or may not have brought in many new readers, but it was something new to try. Engaging in learning is a key to a continuously satisfying retirement.

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  5. Hi Bob,
    Your blog is very timely in that I'm currently in the thought process for creating a new blog for 2019. I currently have a couple of blogspot blogs for my international cooking but next year I want to venture out and post other things that I enjoy doing. I don't reach out for followers with my blogs, I just like using them as a creative outlet. You always have interesting topics so I'm hopeful you'll give us another eight years.

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    1. Eight more years will take me to my 50th wedding anniversary. Maybe that is a good target.

      Best of luck with your new blog in 2019. I looked at a few of your food postings...I am now hungary.

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  6. As someone who is not enjoying retirement five years in, I find your blog to be a real life line and most informative. Keep up the good work.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear you aren't enjoying retirement. Hopefully, something said here will help you turn the corner.

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  7. This was a very insightful post for me as well. I have gone halfway. I started what I call a "blog" several years ago to document my retirement journey. However, it is largely private as I have not published any of it, on the web or otherwise. As one of my sons said, "is it really a blog if it's not on the web? Maybe it's more of a 'journal-log'?" Fair enough. It is mostly for my eyes, though my family has seen parts of it. Maybe someday some or all of it will see the light of day, but for now I thoroughly enjoy it as an outlet for my thoughts on my life and as a way to feed my writing interests.

    I do go through the same struggles of finding topics and mildly interesting things to say about them. But the nice thing about my private blog is that, like retirement, I don't have anyone else's expectations to live up to. I set my own schedule (one time I went 14 months between entries) and write when the inspiration moves me. I, too, still enjoy it.

    Thanks for doing what you do and providing hackers like me with someone to look up to!

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    1. Your blog story reminds me of the old conundrum, "if a tree falls in the woods but no one hears it...."

      I journaled privately fore many years before I discovered blogging. Both are totally acceptable forms of self expression and creative development.

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  8. Next month (December) will begin my ninth year of blogging, which seems almost unbelievable to me. I started out blogging as an accountability tool, to keep track of our progress and my thoughts as we started out to paying off a large amount of debt. That blog segued into our move to Hawaii and then to our life on Kaua'i, and now serves as a more of a journal of our life and travels. One of the greatest unexpected pleasures that has come from blogging are the friendships and connections that have been made, both in person and online.

    My son once said that people blog because they like the sound of their own voice. I have to admit that's truee in a sense. However, I also blog because it requires me to be more reflective about the things that are happening around me, about my own life and where I want to be in the future. Interestingly, those same aspects have also been a part of retirement and are what I appreciate about being retired most of all, the time to reflect on the past, present and future.

    I read (or at least check) several blogs almost daily and have learned much from others' experiences, from the topics they have written about and from how they write. Some of these blogs are written by retirees and about retirement, but others have absolutely nothing to do with retirement. I try not to write directly about retirement because I don't feel I'm an expert (except about my own retirement) or that I have any better advice to give anyone. If someone learns something from my blogging that's great, but it's not why I write.

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    1. First of all, the picture on your blog of the massive Gelato cones with the wafers are too much! I'm surprised Brett doesn't need to hold each with two hands.

      Your son may be partly right, but it can be much deeper than that. Fulfilling a creative need, a chance to meet others, and occasionally to rage against the machine are benefits for me. Frankly, I didn't know you have been blogging even longer than I, but I am glad I discovered your site and very happy you are still posting away.

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  9. I really like the sentence, reusing or reworking something you have done before is really what retirement is all about. When researching life as a widow and then again about retirement life often the advice given was to to reinvent yourself. Perhaps better advice would be to build a new life from the foundation of who you already are.

    As for blogging, I'm enjoying the blogging world so much. I'm pretty new to it, both reading blogs and writing one. I find it fascinating and it's opened a whole new world for me. I'm encouraged and challenged by the blogs I've started following. Thanks for inspiring us all!

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    1. You are quite welcome.

      Reinventing sounds good, but I think it can scare people a bit. Certainly, it is possible to reinvent yourself after retirement. But, for most of us, it is more of a rebuild or an expansion of who and what we already are.

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  10. Bob, it was interesting to read the strategies you use to find topics to write on. Because I don’t hold myself to a publishing schedule, I don’t have quite the same time pressure, but I do find my topics in many of the same ways that you do.

    Jude

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    1. I used to post every day when I started, but that became unsustainable. Once a week allowed too many people to drift away. Now, twice a week, with a regular Monday & Thursday post schedule. along with a new podcast every week seems to be best.

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