The difference between amateur and professional writers

Art is a discipline. It is a skill. It is a craft. It is something which you must work at regularly, and struggle through the challenges by overcoming one word at a time. Professional writers know this. Amateurs, however, will often say they “write when the muse visits” them.


You see, the writers we most admire: journalists — who pen words beautifully — are required to write weekly, on a daily basis. When the muse visits, they write. And when the muse has veered to a foreign, hidden place they write.

We see authors publish books yearly. Screenwriters who create new plays often. Professional writing is not something we claim on a sometime basis. It is a full-time job of knowing even when you do not feel inspired you are still required to write.

When you do not feel inspired you are still required to write.

Stick to a writing schedule

View your time writing as a first date where it’d be horrible to miss, or show up late. I often tell those I coach to set an appointment on their calendar to sit down and write. Once set, treat it as a meeting at work you cannot miss. On Monday morning at 6 am, or Wednesday at 7:30 pm you must show up. No excuses.

(If you want to work full-time as a writer, why not start practicing now?)

Discipline gets things done

When I was writing my book, God in Your Morning, I woke up an hour earlier every morning to write. Within that hour sometimes I was only able to write a paragraph. Other times, I wrote pages upon pages. There were days I stared at a blank screen for 45 minutes and wished I had stayed in bed.

Regardless of how each writing session went, faithfully I woke up early every day to make my writing appointment. The benefits? I completed my book within six months.

My writing friends and those who knew of my book project were impressed with how quickly it took me. The funny thing is I did not do anything impressive in finishing. I simply had discipline, and discipline — applied in large or small amounts — always gets the job done.

Discipline always gets the job done.

Professionals know writing is messy

Putting beautiful words together is ugly. That almost sounds like a funky kind of oxymoron, but it is the truth. I cannot tell you how many rewrites I have seen great news articles undergo. Red ink and cross-outs decorate a writer’s finest work.

I tend to see many beginning writers grow frustrated because they have not gotten it right from the start. It does not read as beautifully as the idea pictured in their head. The commas are out of place. They have not found the correct adverb, adjective, and wonder if that paragraph should be kept.

This is all understandable. I have my frustrations also. We all do. However, professional writers know the most important part of the first draft is getting the idea out of their head and onto the blank page. Once that is done, the first milestone has been crossed.

So keep writing, even when it does not sound beautiful. Even when it means crawling out of bed when you’d prefer to be sleeping, or relaxing with a movie on. Then once you are done, go back and reread it. Make it something remarkable (like a professional).


Published author, poet, and editor. Writing to inform, editing to improve, creating to inspire change.

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