What a lot of non-writers don’t realize is that writing is a job. They picture an author sitting at a pristine desk, gazing out the window at a beautiful view, and tapping away at her computer while sipping on a latte.
The only part that’s true about that for me is the coffee. I write whenever I can, wherever I can. I schedule my writing time for certain hours in the evening or on weekends, just like I know what hours I will be at my day job.
To be taken seriously as a writer, I firmly believe that you first have to make a commitment to yourself that you are going to take writing seriously. This doesn’t mean being stern-faced and never having any fun. But, for me, here’s what it does mean.
It means improving my skills by going to conferences. A friend asked me a couple of months ago why I was going to an annual writers’ conference in my city, when I already had an agent and a book deal. “I mean, you’re not going to pitch or anything,” she said. This struck me as completely the wrong approach. Conferences aren’t just about sitting in a room for 15 minutes pitching your book to an agent. They are about meeting and networking with other book people, learning to improve your craft, finding out what’s going on in the publishing industry. Lawyers and teachers and doctors all do continuing education courses to keep current in their skills. As professionals, we authors need to do the same.
Treating writing as a profession also means, for me, carrying business cards for when someone asks about my book. It means answering calls and emails from editors, agents, bloggers, and fellow authors with courtesy and in a timely manner. And, yes, it means meeting deadlines, too, and writing even when I don’t “feel” like it. Because, as with any other job, there are days when you won’t feel like showing up but you have to anyway, to get the work done. You can still have a latte while you do it, though.