|Photo credit: Johan Larsson on Flickr|
What I mean is if you treat your writing like a hobby rather than a job, then you'll be hard pressed to try to do those things that professional writers do, like finish novels and write until your fingers want to fall off and edit your work to death. If you treat your writing like a hobby rather than a job, then you really can't expect anyone else to see it your passion as anything more than just a hobby.
If you treat your writing like another job, however, I think you'll find that not only will you become more productive, but you'll become more confident in your writing (at least, I did).
But what exactly do I mean by acting like a professional writer? Well, let's take a look at some things most (or at least many) professional writers do:
- Professional writers write to routine. Every writer is a little different—some write every day, others five or six days a week, others less, but the point is they develop some sort of method that works for them and they stick with it. Professional writers can't allow themselves to slack off for long—they have deadlines to meet and bills to pay and this is how they work. Which leads me to...
- Professional writers meet deadlines. Published authors are constantly working under a deadline—whether it's a draft that's due, or a proposal for the next novel or a synopsis or whatever the agent/publisher/reader needs, published writers live by deadlines. And in order to pay the bills and keep their contracts and continue progressing, published authors do what they have to to make sure they meet their deadlines.
- Professional writers edit their work. I don't mean a casual sweep through, either—many published authors have been known to entirely rewrite their work from scratch or rip their drafts apart until the first draft is no longer recognizable.
- Professional writers read a lot. I've written in the past about why this is so important, but it's no coincidence that most published authors also happen to be avid readers. Reading is essential to good writing.
- Professional writers keep writing. When a writer's agent can't find a publisher who will buy their work, the professionals keep writing. When the book doesn't sell as well as they'd hoped, professionals keep writing. When the first draft looks absolutely horrendous and they start to wonder whether their story idea was worth writing at all, professional writers keep writing. Period.
Now the secret is this: you don't have to be published to write like a professional. You don't need to have a contract to set deadlines for yourself, or create some kind of weekly routine. You don't need an agent or a publisher or a hoard of raving fans demanding your next book to keep writing and reading and editing your work and doing the very best you possibly can to write a fantastic story. All you need is you.
The way I see it, if we act like professionals now, we'll be better off later when we actually are professionals with real deadlines to meet. In the meantime, we'll just keep doing what we do.