Learning how to write well takes a lifetime, so never stop training. Do whatever you need to do – read books on the craft of writing, attend lectures when you have the chance, and explore different genres. Read fiction, nonfiction, and magazines. Watch films, and go to exhibitions. Fill yourself with stories and experiences, and you’ll become a better writer.
Look inside yourself and analyze your own writing. Discover your strengths and make the most of them. Find your weaknesses and fix them (or avoid them). If you have trouble doing this analysis for yourself, seek the help of other readers or hire professional services.
That kid who typed “The Black Pearl” on his grandma’s classic 1950’s typewriter would be smug; “I told you we were going to write” he’d say. “You were never that good at telling jokes anyway.”
[Actually, 20% for the first $500 billed with the client. 10% for lifetime billings with the client between $500.01 and $10,000.]
Ultimately our conception of ‘professional’ has to focus solely on product and conduct. Is the book professionally written and produced? Is the author conducting themselves in a respectful, professional manner? Everything else is a nonsense.
So when we say that a writer is a professional, we can mean either that they are competent, skilful or assured, or that they are engaged in writing as their main paid occupation. Morton’s questions speak to neither of these definitions, instead they address what are essentially irrelevant process choices. She seems to say that real authors have a poor work-life balance, eschew their friends, and sacrifice quality of life and hygiene for their literary ambitious. But we cannot use these sorts of proclivities to decide who is a professional, because they relate only to a stereotypical construct that is unrelated to reality.
You’d like to write a book some day. You’d love to get your words out there. Heck, you wouldn’t mind even getting paid to share them with the world.
What if all it took to become a writer was to start thinking one? What if writing wasn’t this thing only the elite got to do, but a craft anyone could tackle?
You are not alone, unique, or special if you lack knowledge or experience. You are simply at the beginning of your journey. Those successful writers you look up to are just farther along in theirs. There’s nothing stopping you from following your path and improving your skills other than your own excuses or bad habits.
Whatever your answers are, there is room for improvement.