T.W. Anderson said something about freelance writing professionals and it got me to thinking. What, I nattered to myself making a cappuccino, makes a writer a professional writer?
I know that the first time I felt like a professional writer was way back when I got paid the very first time for something I wrote. I’d been calling myself a writer before then, but with that small check in my hand I felt like I wasn’t faking anymore.
But professional means more than just earning money at a job, or it should I think.
One of the definitions of professional I found at Dictionary.com that I like is: A skilled practitioner; an expert. (professional. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/professional (accessed: November 23, 2009). Of course, I wasn’t very expert when I got that first check, and I wasn’t nearly as skilled as I’ve become. But I was no longer a rank amateur either.
It certainly isn’t about how the writer dresses, although the truly professional writers I know clean up really well as I do. We may write in our pajamas but we can dress well and comfortably for the board room too.
I realized I make a distinction between folks who are writing full time or trying to and those who just seem to dabble at writing now and again. Those who have full-time writing jobs obviously qualify in my view and so do those who are freelancing full time. It’s a bit more iffy with those who are working at it, but there you have it.
Somehow, however, I don’t think that’s what T.W. was talking about. Professionals in any field have a certain confidence and tend to be respectful and thoughtful. The respond promptly to clients and tend to share information with other professionals.
By and large I think the real professional is open to new ideas. Of course, writers have to be open to new ideas if they are to keep their writing current. But the truly good ones are also alert and open to new ways of doing business.
Maybe it’s more a matter of I know one when I see one.
Image from http://www.sxc.hu