Being a Professional – Part 1 of 4

There are many definitions for professional/professionalism, most of which expressing that a professional is someone who does something, a skill or practice, for money. But, there’s more to it than that, which is why I’m sharing with you these definitions of a professional:

Professional: a person who is an expert at his or her work; a person who engages in an activity with great competence.

Before you can even think about making money as a professional for any skill, you must first learn the techniques and tools that go with it. Since I’m a writer and that’s what this newsletter is about – writing – that’s what this article will be about; the skills needed to become a professional writer.

The definition says that a professional is an “expert at his or her work” and “a person who engages in an activity with great competence.” These both give clues that will lead you to being a professional writer.

You must learn spelling and grammar, and POV and tenses to be an expert at the craft of writing. You can’t depend on an editor to do everything for you. It’s unfortunate that most writers believe they don’t need to know how to actually write properly – with correct spelling and grammar – and expect all of it to be the editor’s job.

Editors are not there to clean up your mess because you don’t want to learn things for yourself. They’re there to catch the mistakes that slipped past the writer, because it’s virtually impossible for a writer to catch all their own mistakes. We all make mistakes and it helps to have a second set of eyes.

If you want to be a professional at anything, you must learn the skills and become an expert.

Once you’ve learned the skills and know how to be an expert, you then have to use them with “great competence.” What does this mean? It means don’t be sloppy or lazy, but always strive to do your best. This applies to writing, formatting, and following all submission guidelines. They’re there for a reason and a professional knows this.

Once you have the skills to be an expert and exercise those skills with great competence, you’ll find that your acceptances will increase and more and more people will want to work with you.

No one wants to work with someone who can’t write a decent sentence or can’t use punctuation properly – that involves a lot of editing work and time. They want to work with someone who has clean writing that’s clear and that will take a minimal amount of effort to publish.

Some would say this would be laziness on the publisher’s part. And they would be completely wrong. This would be laziness on the part of the writer for not learning their skill, for not becoming a professional expert at their craft. The writers who think that it’s laziness on the part of the editor or publishers are the ones that haven’t taken the time to learn their skill; it’s a very bad attitude to have. They’re the ones you’ll see griping about not getting acceptances and slandering editors or presses that don’t want to work with them. That in itself is immature and unprofessional (I’ll cover more of that in the 4th part of this series on professionalism).

The fact of the matter is, if you want to be a successful, professional writer. You have to learn your craft well. You have to know spelling, grammar, POV, and tenses. You can’t depend on others to do it for you.

You are responsible for the quality of your writing. Editors aren’t your grammar maids, just there to clean up your mess!

Because remember what professionals are:

Professional: a person who is an expert at his or her work; a person who engages in an activity with great competence.

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2014. All rights reserved.

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