Professional or amateur?

My husband’s family are all into hobbies, railways, models, dolls, the lot. I mean really into it, they removed walls to put in more display cabinets. When I asked Keith what should I write about this week, he said, “Writing – the cheap hobby of the economic downturn.”

He was teasing but he’s right, it is a cheap hobby. Still, just like any other hobby, you can get carried away. It’s just so easy now.

You can micro blog through places like Twitter. There’s blogging like WordPress, forums, fiction groups that do tag team writing like ASR http://boi.alt-starfleet-rpg.org , ezines, Facebook and MySpace, wikis and a thousand other ways to get your words out there. It seems everyone can do it and a lot of us are. We are living in a world where people share information at an ever increasing rate. So where should we draw the line between a writer and someone that just types a lot?

You know, I don’t think there needs to be a line. Just like astronomy, some of the best finds are from avid amateurs.

Someone writing about their passion is always worth reading. Take my mother-in-law. Types away about dolls, writes the occasional article for her local doll club, tests out new crotchet patterns for doll clothes and puts them together with a few pictures. Amateur right?

Wrong.

World-wide author Marjory Fainges. She did so well out of it, now my father-in-law writes too. And you want to know what is really interesting? Marjory was published internationally by Kangaroo Press/ Simon & Schuster. When her Encyclopaedia of Australian Dolls went out of print, she chose to release it, not in hardcopy but on CD. Made at home, she can produce a CD version herself and post it around the world for a fraction of the cost and send people updates as she researches for the next edition. It is a constantly evolving reference that the doll world is greeting with open arms and open paypal accounts.

So when is she “professional”?

What is your passion? Maybe it’s worth writing about. And maybe your blog can go from hobby to career.

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9 responses to “Professional or amateur?

  1. Professional is a state of mind more than income. Think “amateur electrician or doctor” vs. professional. Which one do you think still trains and hones the craft? Which one cares more about the homeowner/patient/ (or in the case of a writer) the reader? The professional writer considers more than him/herself.

  2. Or perhaps a simpler way to put it is: A professional writer goes to work even when she doesn’t feel like it. An amateur would wait for that darned silly muse to slap her aside the head.

  3. I beg to differ with both analogies.

    Not all professionals care about the people they write for and not all amatuers care about only writing for themselves.

    I have two blogs to which I write for. My main one, which if you click on my name will take you directly to, has a floating subscriber base of 35-40 people, plus it has 22 known followers. So being the non-typical “amatuer”, I write to keep my readership coming back for more. I also write to hook the casual reader that may have found my blog through searching Goggle or some other type of search engine.

    I also maintain a short story blog, to which I have at the moment, a very small subscriber base and small following. Even though I write for myself the majority of the time, I still take into consideration the people who read it.

    I value my readership enough that in order to view my second blog, that I stuck a page up that you have to answer a question on before you can proceed.

    So tell me again, what is the real difference between a “Professional” and “Amateur”?

  4. Two very good points. I totally agree, the ability to actually work at your craft is a true sign of professionalism.

    Not being trapped into one definition of successful is one too I think.

  5. chduncan100

    Georgie B I have to agree with Karen and Suzanne. And I don’t think you can hold yourself up as an example because you are NOT an amateur. Your single minded determination has taken you beyond that–you have a goal in writing and you are persuing it with discipline and a work ethic. Your blogs, your book and your desire to improve your work all prove that. You personify what Karen is talking about. I keep having this discussion with Michele too.
    That doesn’t mean you’ve reached your goal yet. (Show me the writer who has.) But you are professionally seeking it.
    We all write what’s on our hearts, or what’s important to us but where the consideration for our audience has to come in is the part where you make what you are writing clear enough for others to understand and agree or disagree with. So the reader is important in that respect. You don’t, however, change your message just because you think a reader may not like it.

  6. My definition of the difference between a professional and amateur writer is the same as for sports – professionals get paid, amateur’s don’t. However, I feel funny calling myself a writer, even an amateur one, if I don’t get published and paid. As far as I’m concerned, once I earn a single penny by writing, then I’m a writer – till then, I’m a scribbler.

    But maybe I’m overly harsh on myself.

    Michelle

  7. And so I would class you as a “professional” rather than an amateur

  8. I don’t change my message when I write (to the best of my knowledge). I will tweak what I write only in the sense of using certain types of language.

    For that, I do consider the reader enough to put a disclaimer in on a post that warrants it.

    Beyond that, I don’t worry about offending people. If I offend someone with what I write, then that means I achieved a small goal of getting noticed.

    And in the long run, getting noticed is what it’s all about.

  9. I only have one problem with using being paid as being a professional. If my last book was sold two years ago, am I still professional now?

    To be honest, the definition is less important than this discussion. People highlighting what is important about writing, that’s were true meaning lies.

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