Writers generally fall into three camps: hobbyists, aspiring professionals and working pros. The difference is not so much about your writing skills or experience as it is about your goals.
A hobby writer just wants to have fun with writing. You know what I mean: get together with friends, talk about inspiration, maybe write a few pages and share them with other people. The main goal here is to have fun and play around with creative writing. There’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, I imagine all of the best authors started out as hobbyists.
An aspiring pro, on the other hand, is serious about getting something published and making money at it, possibly even someday turning it into a living. This person writes something with the intention of eventually getting it in front of a literary agent and then an editor who will buy it and publish it.
A professional writer, by definition, is someone who writes and gets paid for it. The goal here is to keep a writing career going and growing.
Where you run into trouble is trying to pitch your tent in the wrong camp. If you’re a hobby writer and you try to team up with an aspiring pro, you’re both going to end up frustrated. You’ll think she’s being too harsh and not supportive enough — while she thinks you’re not “serious” about your writing.
Does any of this sound familiar?
As you learn how to write a book, ask yourself: What are my goals here? Am I trying to get published? Or do I just want to play around with writing? There’s no wrong answer. You only have to be honest with yourself. I love cars, for example, but I’d never want to be a professional race car driver. Tuning up my carburetor and driving down to Cruise Night at the local diner is just fine by me. And that’s cool. With my writing, on the other hand, I’m focused on growing my career.
How about you?