Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Signs of a Professional Writer

One of the topics I come across often on various websites is a discussion of what makes a professional writer. I read and ponder and wonder if the writer is correct. Most of the definitions seem too grand for me. In my world, which I admit is limited, the signs of a professional writer are simple and obvious. Here they are.

1. You write even when you don’t feel like it.

2. You maintain a writing schedule, knowing that over time you will get better. It may take years, but you won’t get where you want to go without effort over time.

3. You take reviews for what they are, good or bad—just the opinion of one other person.

4. You learn from everything—good and bad reviews, story rejections, questions that seem to come out of left field.

5. If you have a day job or other responsibilities, you still find time to think about your next scene or any other writing issue. You’re not dreaming about being famous or rich.

6. You help other writers coming along and listen with interest to those who have gone before.

7. You carry out the various parts of being a professional writer, even those you may dislike or feel unprepared for—arranging talks, writing reviews and marketing materials, and the like.

8. You accept the limitations of those who work with you—Beta readers, agents, editors.

9. You’re patient with the process of publishing, choosing the path that is right for you and no one else.

10. You make mistakes, correct them, and move on. You’re human, after all.

And one that shouldn’t have to be included but here it is.

11. You read as much as you can because this is one of the best ways of learning how to improve as a writer and thinker.

I included this image because he looks so content and absorbed, and I think that's the way we want our readers to look regardless of what we write. For my books, check out the links below.


  1. All of these are good points, especially the one you added at the end. I'm always surprised when a writer says he/she doesn't read books in the same genre. I learn from the good ones, and I learn from the poorly written ones.

    1. I've also had wannabe writers say they don't like to read the kind of thing they're writing. I can't fathom that. I'd be lost without books to challenge and teach me. Thanks for commenting, Maris.

  2. Personally, I can't understand wanting to write in a genre you don't enjoy reading. I'm inspired by quality mystery and romantic suspense. When I was a school librarian, I read and studied YA and children's books. I enjoy writing them as well.

    1. I agree, Jacquie. I may never finish all the mysteries stacked around the house waiting for my attention, but I know I'll always have something good to read. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures and I feel fortunate to be able to write and publish in the genre. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Excellent post and all points valid. I always say "Reading is the best teacher."

  4. You're spot on, Judy. We wouldn't get anywhere without reading and absorbing and thinking about what we read. Thanks for coming by.

  5. I can't agree more about the importance of reading. Reviewing the books I read for my website has made me a better reader, too. As has having a writing group that meets monthly and comments on works-in-progress. If I'm learning from it, it's a good use of time!

    1. Reviewing books also helped me learn to read better, and I've always found writers' groups invaluable. Perhaps your last point is the one to pass on to others. Thanks for sharing that.

  6. GREAT post, Susan and so true!
    Thanks for sharing