Turns out, I was still acting the amateur, thinking success as a writer was about finding the right idea or a big break. But the truth is that success in any field is more about commitment to a process than it is about finding one magic trick that will make it all come together.
After yesterday’s post — er, rant — I decided to finish a draft I started back in July. It seemed appropriate because I want to be considered a professional writer, and not an amateur. In the introduction of his post Jeff hammers on the point that professionals need to care more about the process instead of the results.
As a writer, there are days I’m more obsessed with the results than the process. It’s an easy trap to fall into given the apparent success of other writers that slams me in the face every time I go to Facebook or Twitter. As a web developer, process and how it affects results is ingrained in my very being. One misplaced semicolon or a flaw in my logic and the website won’t behave the way I want it to. To become the professional I want to be, I need to balance the two.
Being a little less disciplined in process is not a completely bad thing because it allows me to flow with my ideas, instead of tripping over every word, looking for that perfect one. When it comes to how much I produce, though, I need to be a little more logical and diligent. Although I know I should write every day, there are some days I don’t. My writing is tied to my emotions, maybe too much so. Emotional connection is important because it is how readers identify with characters and embrace them. However, other than providing inspiration, emotions shouldn’t affect when or how often a writer writes.
In his example for Amateurs practice as much as they have to. Pros never stop, Jeff asks two very poignant questions: “What if he [John Grisham] had decided it was too painful to get up to write at 5:00 am every day?” Or even better, “What if he’d given into the overwhelming feeling of writing a novel on top of 70-hour work weeks?” I have a simple answer to both based on my own experience. It would have taken him longer than he expected to publish his first book and he might have considered quitting several times.
Stopping myself from doing another blog was probably a very good idea and is covered by the points of Amateurs leap for their dreams. Pros build a bridge and Amateurs build a skill. Pros build a portfolio. LHE is my portfolio site, it’s doesn’t need to be another writing one. Sure, it highlights my writing, but that’s part of my portfolio and who I am. I already have three sites dedicated to writing, two for me and one for my fellow indies. What I need to do is build a bridge between all of them, besides the links they already share, so they form the launching pad of my writing career.
My most favorite point in the article is the last one, Amateurs want to be noticed. Pros want to be remembered. When I first started writing, I didn’t care about the money. I still don’t, except for the practical relief it will bring. Writing for me has always been about making small subtle impacts on other people. Words require thought to create, they also create thought in their reading, so every time some reads what I write, I change their lives, even though they or me may never know it.
So am I an amateur or professional? I prefer the term semi-professional for now because I still have many things to learn.