Sixty second writing tips: being professional

I’ve always said that professionalism counts for writers. Publishing is a business, so is writing, and professionalism gives an edge. To me it is:

1. Competence – understanding the field, what’s needed to write well, and being able to do it (a lot of my recent blog posts are about how to do this part).

2. Reliability and committment – honouring the spirit of agreements.

3. Accepting responsibility. If you’ve made a mistake, admit to it.  Understand how it happened – so you know not to repeat it next time.

4. Abstraction – I’ve said it before, and it deserves repeating. You are not your writing. It does not define your self-worth. If you get criticised or knocked back – don’t take it personally.

5. Modesty. You do what’s needed, get stuff done – and maybe some amazing stuff. But don’t let it give you airs. There is no room for a sense of self-superiority in this field.

Do these work for you? Do you have a definition of professionalism?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

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18 comments on “Sixty second writing tips: being professional

  1. Succinct and to the point. Advice that all authors should take. Be professional about your work, committed, and learn from both your successes and failures. Above all, strive to improve in everything you write.

    Good advice that could be applied to life as well as writing!

    • Thank you. I try and keep these things snappy – to render down what I’m trying to say to its essence. Certainly I’ve found these rules have stood me in good stead with publishers – they’re running a business and appreciate people who have a businesslike manner.

  2. stuartart says:

    Nice post Matthew – I think on my list I would add – Do not slander anyone else (even if it’s true), Always write from the heart, Lear, lear, learn, Hone, hone, hone!

  3. stuartart says:

    Oh, and always proof read before pressing ‘send’ – oops! :)

  4. Saajida says:

    thanks for sharing :)

  5. Someone else already made this comment, but it bears repeating: succinct and to the point! Thanks for sharing these tips!

  6. EagleAye says:

    Good stuff as always, MJ.

  7. ejrunyon says:

    Hi, would you consider re-blogging this for me?
    I’m asking for submissions

    Thank you

    • Hi – I don’t re-blog stuff – I deliberately keep this blog for my own writings – but I’m happy to post your coment with the link. Good luck with your call for submissions. I hope your computer issues are sorted out favourably, too – it’s amazing how fragile these devices really are, certainly it doesn’t seem to take much spill on the keyboard to deal to them.

  8. Team Oyeniyi says:

    Sounds like professionalism in any field to me, Matthew, not just writing. Number 3 particularly, seems to be an aspect of professionalism that is sorely lacking these days.

    • Thanks – yes, that one particularly is seldom seen. I think people wrap up ‘face saving’ with their sense of self confidence, have to be seen to be not wrong, etc. Whereas by my standards, I respect people more who admit to an error, rectify the problem – either apologising if it’s a gaffe or figuring out how to avoid the mistake a second time – and move on. Much more robust and self-confident by my standards. But a lot of people don’t.

  9. I think four is one of the most essential, no matter what you write. I think the mark of a newbie or amateur is being crazily attached to your words as an extension of yourself. They are, in some measure, but your goal is to please/inform/entertain the reader, not massage your ego! I’d choose the word “detachment”…

    • Absolutely true. Conflating self-worth and written output is one of the big pitfalls, and I think it’s one of the reasons why a big chunk of the self-pubbed stuff these days is so dreadful. It means a great deal to the author, but not a lot to others. It exposes the author to hurt when they’re critiqued (even constructively). And there’s usually a quality step from that to ‘commercially publishable’ material. To my mind freelancing casts the issue into stark perspective – in today’s dog-eat-dog world particularly there’s no room for ‘word preciousness’. I’ve had plenty of my stuff slaughtered at the hands of subbies trying to make a piece fit a space on a page. There was a point, years back, when I’d go down to the paper I often wrote for and edit my stuff with them, around 10.30 pm, ready for the morning paper – good of them to let me do that, but it wasn’t economic for me to kill evenings every time I had an article appearing, on top of the other time. And I had no chance of affecting whatever headline they came up with… Detachment in one easy lesson!

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