So even though you may never earn mega-bucks as a writer or even come anywhere close to being self-supporting, it stands to reason that if you think and act like a professional, you greatly increase your chances of success.
Okay, so many of us go to work in our jammies--and that’s definitely a perk in this business! But we still try to exhibit professionalism in our written communication, presentation materials, telephone manners, and responsiveness to editorial requests, right?
Even more important is our day-to-day approach to writing, and that says a lot about where we fall on the continuum between “hobbyist” and “professional.”
The following self-test is an updated version of the quiz that appeared in my April 2010 post. If you took the test back then, how are you doing three years later?
1. Do you set “office hours,” certain days of the week and/or specific times of the day that you devote to writing? (score 5 points for yes, 3 points if your writing time is random but you set a daily or weekly word count quota, 0 points for no set writing time or goals)
2. Do you log the number of writing hours you put in as well as how you spend your writing time (writing, revision, marketing, etc.)? (5 points for all of the above; 3 points for just logging your hours or word count; 0 points for none of the above)
3. Do you have a writing office or study, or at least one corner of a room designated as your workspace? (5 points for a separate writing office; 3 points for a corner of a room; 1 point if your only available writing spot is the local Starbucks or library; 0 points if you don’t have a clue where you’ll be writing next)
4. Are your computer, reference books, and supplies readily accessible? (5 points if everything is easily reachable in your writing workspace; 3 points if you have a designated shelf or crate somewhere nearby; 0 points if you have to go searching)
5. Do you have a system for tracking manuscript submissions and results, including those to editors, agents, and contests? (5 points if you use a spreadsheet or other electronic system; 3 points if you keep a handwritten log; 1 point for notes stuffed into file folders; 0 points if you don’t remember what you sent where)
6. Do you belong to one or more professional writers organizations, such as ACFW or RWA? (3 points for every national writers organization you belong to; 2 points for every local chapter or writers group; 0 points for none)
7. Do you subscribe to writers publications and study them for writing instruction, marketing news, etc.? (3 points for every major publication you subscribe to and actually READ; 1 point for every writers group newsletter you read; 0 points for none)
8. Do you have a critique partner and/or do you regularly submit your work to contests for feedback? (5 points if you have a regular critique partner or have entered at least 3 manuscript contests in the past year; 3 points for at least 1 manuscript critique or contest submission in the past year; 0 points if you don’t generally seek out critique feedback of any kind)
9. Do you attend writers group meetings and conferences regularly? Take classes or read instructional books to improve your craft? (5 points for every major conference you attend annually; 3 points for regular writers group attendance; 1 point for every online or local class you have taken or craft book you have read in the past year)
10. Do you keep track of your writing income and expenses? (5 points for yes; 0 points for no) Expenses (keep all receipts and consult your tax professional) may include:
- Writers group membership dues
- Mileage to and from writing-related events
- Lunch with your critique partner
- Writers magazine subscriptions
- Office supplies and equipment
- Reference books
- Education expense
Well, how did you do?
- 55 points or higher--you’re a regular writing CEO!
- 41-54 points--Vice President
- 31-40 points--Middle Management
- 21-30 points--Administrative Assistant
- 11-20 points--Prospective Employee
- 10 points or less--Hobbyist
In searching through the Seekerville archives for other helpful posts on this subject, I came across this one by our beloved Ruthy. Definitely worth a second look, because if Ruthy can’t motivate you, no one can!
Here’s another kick-in-the-pants post by Glynna. Glynna works full-time at a demanding “day job” and fits in writing in the early mornings, evenings, and weekends. She knows how to treat her writing like a business.
And, for some no-nonsense advice about using the time we have to its best advantage, don’t miss this post by Tina.