What’s up everybody?! How we all doing? I hope this video finds you well! Welcome to WriteOnIn, where we discuss the goings on in the writing community, whether you be a novelist, or a freelancer, or a journalist, or an aspiring writer of any kind.
So today, we’re going to talk about what the general difference is between a “Professional” writer and an “Amateur” one, and how to know when you’ve made the transition.
I’ll cover some examples of my own journey, as well as share some tips for you on how to speed up your process of going from amateur to professional.
So! Without further ado, let’s get Write On In!
Welcome back everybody! All right, so first up, let’s go over what it means to be an amateur or a professional.
But Andrew, it’s totally obvious!
While you may think being a professional writer means you make enough money off your writing to make a living, in actuality, that’s not always the case.
In fact, you can make the transition into being a “professional” writer long before you get paid a dime, and in a lot of ways, the more professional you are before you even reach out to an editor or a potential freelance client, the better.
The first thing you should do is actually a simple mentality shift where you tell yourself you are a professional writer.
Now, hold up, don’t get me wrong here, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to ever spend any time practicing your writing. You can’t simply say “I’m a professional writer” and expect it to happen with a snap.
The mentality shift, however, is the first step toward taking yourself seriously. If you start labeling yourself as a professional writer — first to yourself and then to the rest of the world — then you’ll want to start acting like one. You’ll want to make sure you’re actually putting your money where your mouth is so you won’t look like a fool.
That brings me to my next point, which is to always push yourself to do better.
Research ways to self edit and familiarize yourself with proper grammatical functions. Know the differences between common mistakes like the “yours” and “you’res” and such. You do have to at least start as an amateur, but the more you push yourself to do and be better, the faster you will make that transition into being a professional.
Which leads me to my next point, which is to be real with yourself.
Might sound straightforward, but a lot of the times, especially with first time novelists, the simple act of writing something makes you feel so powerful and invincible that it can be difficult not to think you’re the greatest writer there ever was.
And I will be sharing an excerpt from the very first draft of the very first novel I ever wrote later on in this video,
The thing is, it doesn’t take very long to figure out you are probably not, in fact, the greatest writer there ever was. Like, at all.
This is not the time to do what I default to and start thinking you have nothing to offer the writing community.
Instead, take the opportunity to learn, grow, and push yourself to do better, to consciously mold away from the “amateur” mindset, which is relatively thin-skinned compared to a professional, who understands that criticism is part of the game.
Again, this can go for more than even just a novel. Blog posts, articles, newsletters, or anything word-related are totally open for critique, so be open to this.
Next up, you want to make sure you chart your progress.
This might sound a bit straightforward as well, but you’d be surprised at the amount of stories, poems, articles, or whatever that I’ve just thrown away because I didn’t think I’d ever want them, only to miss them years later.
Plus, one day you’ll even be able to pull out something like this
(Pulls out first ever draft of Immortality Awaits)
And read a first draft of something you wrote when you were 18 —
“The weather was a perfect mixture of warm and cold with a light breeze that gave it its sense of paradise. The sun was shining brightly in the beautiful blue sky and there wasn’t a cloud in sight for miles.”
And that’s not even to get me started on the stuff on this, which, yes, I am old enough to know what this is — barely — but I came around at the end of these days, and I was probably seven for most of these.
Then you compare that to a first draft of something you wrote when you’re 31 —
“The exhale of a breeze incites a shiver through the grass ass another musical chord sings into the skyline, and little blue lights glow on the edges of the grass blades and shimmy up the shafts before they dance their way through the air.”
Both excerpts may need work, but the second one is certainly a much better starting point.
Next up, and most importantly, is actually landing a paid gig.
Now, again, this doesn’t necessarily equate to all of a sudden making enough money to live as a writer.
But, whether it be a short story, a newspaper article, blog post, or even a novel, a clip is a clip is a clip is a clip, and the more clips and pieces you can get published by people who aren’t you, the better.
It feels great anytime you get paid for your words, but there is also something special about landing yourself a good opportunity.
I, personally, don’t have any books published yet.
Well, kind of a lie, I self published an edited draft of the story I read from that I wrote when I was 18, but I’m not proud of it and I don’t promote it.
I haven’t had any books traditionally published, is really what I mean, but I also haven’t shopped any of them around or even tried, so who knows.
As of now, I’ve had more luck in the freelance world myself, and at the moment I run the blog over at the Monterey Bay Food Tours, and although it is not at all my first paid gig, it is certainly the one that’s made me feel more of a “professional” when it comes to at least being a competent writer.
You’ll all be with me on my book journeys, though, don’t worry, because I’ll be sure to share my progress when I start to shop things around, which could really be at any moment.
But as a side note, if anyone out there wants to beta read some fantasy/horror, please, please let me know.
Anyway, lovely viewers, that’s all for today’s episode of Write On In!
Remember to try and “dress” for the job to increase your chances of getting it, and once you put in a few practice hours and shift your mentality into faking it until you make it,you’ll inspire yourself when you look at earlier works.
Just remember that everybody has to start somewhere, and success can only be reached after a long line of persistence.
Good luck, and see you next week!