I am a musician – I would call myself semi-professional. I have performed in professional gigs and in groups with a professional standard. Nowadays, given the time I allocate to practice and performing, I aim for being a very good amateur. But what really is the difference between a professional and an amateur? (and no, it’s not just about being paid).
One of my favourite quotes is (and this relates particularly to musicians): “An amateur practices until they can get every note right, a professional practices until they can’t get a note wrong.”
So what is a useful analogy between musicians and writers?
The first that springs to mind is that a writer spends their time writing (rather than talking about the fact that they are/want to be a writer). It’s that simple – a writer writes…
How to become a writer with a professional attitude – well you have to be able to write at any time – even when you don’t feel like it. You have to create the opportunities to write and make sure you fill them with… well – writing. It seems to me you are unlikely to become a professional writer if you don’t develop professional habits. If you don’t create some discipline around your writing. You might get away without it – if you are very lucky. You might win the lottery too…
I think James Clear makes some good points in the following post about professionals vs amateurs. He is not afraid to share his own mistakes and learning with us, and I admire him for that. http://jamesclear.com/professionals-and-amateurs?
James’s words remind us that it’s too easy to get sidetracked from our intentions. So what can we do about it?
To stay focused, we need to work out what is important to us.
Do we want to be taken seriously?
Do we want to be professionals?
Or are we content to be very good amateurs?
There is nothing wrong with that if that’s what we want. I am reminded of another famous quote:
So what do you want out of life? And if like me you want to be writing, then what sort of writer do you want to be?