3 Things Make a Writer a Professional

With the advent of blogging and publishing anything and everything online, writing suddenly became a pursuit by millions.

There's nothing wrong with that, but something important  got lost in the rush to put one's thoughts in front of the masses.


Every career has certain elements or characteristics of those in the profession who can be labeled professional. So does writing.

What Makes a Writer a Professional
Please, Muse, send me some words.

1. A professional writer does not wait for inspiration or the Muse to drop by for a visit.

Professional writers write on a consistent schedule in order to consistently produce new work. If one wrote only when inspired, just about every author would be a one-book wonder. The myth of writing to the muse is exactly that—a myth. In fact, I don't believe I've ever met a Muse.

Being a professional writer is like an employee with an office job. If you're an accountant or a teacher or a customer service rep, you go to work, day in and day out at the time you're supposed to be there, and you stay until it's time to go home.

In other words, it's work. Some days the words flow like melted butter. Other days it's like pulling teeth to get an idea expressed.

Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, and I love that I can make a living at it, but it is hard work. Hard physically on the body, being at a computer for prolonged periods of time.

Hard emotionally because you're mining your own emotions and experiences to create the authenticity that makes characters "real."

Hard mentally hard because you're creating from your brain and imagination something that didn't exist before. You're drained at the end of a day if you did it right.

2. A professional writer makes and keeps deadlines. 

Before indie self-publishing arose, professional writers signed 25-page contracts with publishing companies. Deadlines were in said contracts.

You either met the deadline or serious consequences awaited you if you had less than legitimate reasons.

Those consequences could be as small as giving back the thousands of dollars you received in an advance or as major as getting sued by your publishing company.

In those days, you learned that a deadline meant you might as well be DEAD if you didn't make it. Professional writers bring that same attitude to meeting deadlines in the indie self-publishing world.

3. A professional writer always seeks to improve in whatever way is needed and is willing to learn and master new skills. 

Be your own hero.
Technology is constantly changing. Marketing is constantly changing. A pro does not use "I don't know how to do it" as a crutch to get someone else to do the work for him/her. Anyone can learn. It just takes willingness and time.

Being willing is professional. Helping others learn is professional. Crying off and constantly asking others to do it for you is not.

Remember the Chinese saying: "Give a man a fish, and he eats for one day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for the rest of his life."

Takeaway Truth

For those who love putting together words, this exhausting work is also energizing. When everything comes together, it's the best feeling in the world.

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