A professional writer is someone who gets paid—or makes their living—writing. A hobbyist does not. Be careful not to confuse the two.
It frustrates me that hobbyists sometimes portray themselves as more than they actually are. Let me say there is nothing wrong with being a writing hobbyist. But the level of intensity, breadth of experience, and strength of production capacticy of a professional writer doesn’t even compare to a hobbyist—nor should it.
Hobbyists sometimes pose as professional writers. But make no mistake about it—they are not professional writers. Those who blur the lines intentionally and make themselves something they are not are poseurs.
Poseurs are easy to spot, especially when you know what to look for. They look the part, know the lingo, and may even dabble in what they talk a lot about. The flaw is that they want you to believe they are more than they really are.
I see a lot of people giving advice about writing to other aspiring writers who don’t make a living putting words on a page. This doesn’t necessarily mean that what they have to say has no value. But it does matter if your goal is to be a professional writer.
- Hobbyists don’t depend on the checks to come in the mail.
- Hobbyists don’t intentionally expand their client base.
- Hobbyists don’t live in the tension of what has to be produced today vs. what must be sold to have work for tomorrow.
- Hobbyists don’t understand the pressure of a deadline—especially at the expense of perfection.
- Hobbyists don’t fear that the demand for their work will one day disappear.
- Hobbyists don’t understand the pressure to perform.
- Hobbyists don’t spend as much time writing as they do talking about writing.
Be careful who you pay attention to. Just because they are willing to offer their “sage” advice doesn’t mean you are obligated to listen and follow their direction.
If you want to be a professional writer, take advice from existing professional writers.
Have you ever encountered a hobbyist who tries to portray themselves as a professional? Are you sure your paying attention to the right people?
Ben Stroup is a content activist in a post-paragraph world. He is chief broker of opportunity at Ben Stroup Enterprises. Connect with Ben via email, Twitter, and Google+. Subscribe via email to learn how to use content to move people to action.