Are you a professional writer?
There comes a time when a writer must make The Decision.
Am I a hobbyist or a professional author?
It’s not a decision to be made lightly, or during the excitement and energy generated from a writer’s conferenece. That’s a high, people, not the Holy Spirit giving you clear direction.
And here’s another shocker: going pro has nothing to do with how many books you’ve published or sold. In fact, there are thousands upon thousands of published authors who have not gone pro. Sure, they get their books in print, collect royalties, and sometimes go to book signings, but they’re still dabbling, writing at a casual pace.
Which is fine. A hobby writer loves her craft no more and no less than you. And if she can get the occasional royalty check for her work, that’s awesome. How many hobbies pay anything at all? And if you want to keep your writing casual, go for it. For some, going pro takes the fun out of the art.
If that’s not you, though, stick around. If you want to answer with “I’m a writer” when someone asks what it is you do for a living, then this is the place for you.
So what’s the difference between the published hobbyist and the unpublished professional writer?
It’s a mindset. A professional doesn’t take the day off because the “muse” isn’t there. A pro knows that, unless the muse wants to pay the rent this month, it doesn’t have a horse in this race. A pro sets a production schedule. How many books, articles, short stories, blog posts, and e-newsletters will you write this year? This month? This week? Today?
Your Writing Schedule
A pro has a time schedule. You go on the clock at a specific time. You go off at a specific time. Unless you’re behind on your production schedule. Then it’s unpaid overtime. But barring an emergency, a pro doesn’t take a day off unless it’s scheduled. And, because you’re a pro, you know what needs to be finished this week, so you make up the time somewhere else. Or, preferably, in advance.
Last week I asked you to set your production schedule. How many books, short stories, etc., do you want to finish in one year? Then divide into monthly, weekly, and daily production goals.
Today, I want you to take those daily and weekly goals and create your time schedule. It doesn’t have to be the same time every day, especially if you’re part-time at the moment. But take your weekly goals and divide them by hours. Then take those hours and find spots on your schedule to accomodate them all.
Some of those hours may get pushed earlier or later because of family responsibilities, but you’re planning ahead, so you won’t scramble to catch up next Sunday.
So think long and hard about whether you want to go pro. If you cringe at the thought of self-imposed deadlines and chaining yourself to your Macbook every night, then don’t do it. You’ll hate writing, and that’s the last thing I want to happen. But if the thought of being self-employed, even if it’s only part time for now, excites you and energizes you to type the vowels off your keyboard, then approach it with a plan, and a schedule, and continued education.
That’s how a professional does it.
So are you thinking of going pro? I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below.