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bearilou
09-29-2011, 07:32 PM
Had no idea how to name the subject on this! *flails*

The Bootstrapping Writer—The Secret at the Core of Competency (http://storyfix.com/top-ten-tuesdays-please-welcome-victoria-mixon) by Storyfix guest blogger Victoria Mixon

Perhaps a little too black and white in the distinctions she makes between "amateur" and "professional", but even in extremes it makes some really good points. She's saying what I'm thinking a lot of the times.

For myself, I recognize a couple of those with embarrassing clarity.

Jamesaritchie
09-29-2011, 08:26 PM
Everything there isn't one size fits all, but it's really good, and all true for most.

Loved the part about living. I believe this is one of the biggest differences between the amateur and professional writer.

ChaosTitan
09-29-2011, 08:29 PM
I can agree with most of her points, especially those about Writing and Rewriting. Thanks for the link.

AlwaysJuly
09-29-2011, 09:23 PM
Ah, good link, thanks. I think I'm on my way to being a professional... in habits, at least.

Phaeal
09-29-2011, 09:39 PM
I have so got the WAITING part down. I mean, I absolutely ROCK waiting. Excuse me, that must be another Olympic Waiting Team scout ringing me up. Unless it's one of the top pro waiting teams....

:D

Soccer Mom
09-29-2011, 11:01 PM
There is so much truth there. I love her blog.

iRock
09-29-2011, 11:06 PM
There's so much truth in that. The part about waiting resonates in particular. While I'm waiting, I write other things and I live.

Shadow_Ferret
09-29-2011, 11:12 PM
Huh. And here I thought the difference between amateur and professional was pay.

ChaosTitan
09-29-2011, 11:17 PM
Huh. And here I thought the difference between amateur and professional was pay.

I think pay is part of it, but you can be a paid professional and still have an amateur's attitude.

Shadow_Ferret
09-29-2011, 11:20 PM
But if you're getting professional pay, does it matter? To me that means you've reached your goal. Or my goal anyway.

ChaosTitan
09-29-2011, 11:29 PM
But if you're getting professional pay, does it matter? To me that means you've reached your goal. Or my goal anyway.

Sure it does. Just because you reach that professional status and are finally being paid for it, that doesn't mean you'll stay there. Attitude matters. For example, editors won't keep buying books from divas, so if you prove difficult to work with (ie, amateur attitude) then you won't be getting paid again.

Shadow_Ferret
09-29-2011, 11:47 PM
Maybe it's just semantics but I am an amateur. Maybe the distinction should have been hobby writer vs. Serious writer. Because to me, I can (and do) everything thing on the professional list, but that still doesn't make me a professional until I start having consistent sales.

timewaster
09-30-2011, 02:41 AM
Everything there isn't one size fits all, but it's really good, and all true for most.

Loved the part about living. I believe this is one of the biggest differences between the amateur and professional writer.

It really didn't resonate with me at all. You get amateurs with pro attitudes and pros with amateur attitudes and behaviours and quite a lot of writers who fit neither behaviour category. It makes a good article but doesn't strike me as in any way true.

DancingMaenid
09-30-2011, 04:37 AM
I'm sure there's a lot of truth in this, and I can see some truth in it, but I can't really relate to it.

I'm an amateur and a hobby writer. I write for fun and I've never been paid for it except in contest winnings. But I care a lot about the craft and fit her definition of professional for the most part. That doesn't make me a professional.

I feel like she's mixing seriousness about the craft of writing with seriousness about the business of writing, and I think that's a simplistic way of looking at it. While she makes good points, I don't feel it's that clear who those points are supposed to apply to. Are professionals people who successfully sell their writing? People who seriously attempt to sell their writing? Or people who just take their craft seriously?

timewaster
09-30-2011, 02:50 PM
Sure it does. Just because you reach that professional status and are finally being paid for it, that doesn't mean you'll stay there. Attitude matters. For example, editors won't keep buying books from divas, so if you prove difficult to work with (ie, amateur attitude) then you won't be getting paid again.

I don't think the attitudes the author connects with 'amateur' make much sense to me. The unpublished writers I know differ from each other quite as much as those of the published writers. The article, though interesting, is a fiction. Many unpublished writers work every day, revise thoroughly, take classes, read books , follow advice assiduously, think hard about the form of their submission and generally take their work seriously - it is not always enough.
While it is true that publishers don't want to deal with divas it is also true that if you sell enough books they don't honestly care.
Attitude is a lot less significant than the quality or saleability of what you deliver.

ChaosTitan
09-30-2011, 05:24 PM
While it is true that publishers don't want to deal with divas it is also true that if you sell enough books they don't honestly care.
Attitude is a lot less significant than the quality or saleability of what you deliver.

I agree with that in some instances.

But say an editor has to choose between keeping one of two authors, both of whom sell equally, the choice may ultimately come down to which one the editor would prefer to continue working with.

Maybe bestsellers can get away with any attitude they wish because their books will always rake in the dough, but most of the rest of us can't, and I'd always caution toward being as professional as possible in all interactions.

Jamesaritchie
09-30-2011, 06:38 PM
I don't think the attitudes the author connects with 'amateur' make much sense to me. The unpublished writers I know differ from each other quite as much as those of the published writers. The article, though interesting, is a fiction. Many unpublished writers work every day, revise thoroughly, take classes, read books , follow advice assiduously, think hard about the form of their submission and generally take their work seriously - it is not always enough.
While it is true that publishers don't want to deal with divas it is also true that if you sell enough books they don't honestly care.
Attitude is a lot less significant than the quality or saleability of what you deliver.

I think you're missing the point. An amateur who behaves as a professional is, in the take this article presents, already a professional. This is really an article about why many fail while others succeed.

The amateurs who behave unprofessionally will most likely remain amateurs until they change their ways. The amateur who behaves professionally, who does everything in a professional manner, who has professional attitudes, stands the best chance of being successful.

As for divas, yes, if a writer sells enough books, the publisher will deal with him regardless. But you can't sell a bunch of books until after the publisher buys one, and being a diva usually comes through before this happens.

Being a diva can stop that first sale from occurring.

Now, if you let success go to your head and become a diva after you sell a million books, the publisher will deal with you, but you may still miss out on deals you would have gotten otherwise.

Susan Littlefield
09-30-2011, 06:45 PM
Love the part about editing and life. Thank you for the link.

timewaster
09-30-2011, 07:14 PM
[QUOTE=Jamesaritchie;6599836]I think you're missing the point. An amateur who behaves as a professional is, in the take this article presents, already a professional. This is really an article about why many fail while others succeed.

The amateurs who behave unprofessionally will most likely remain amateurs until they change their ways. The amateur who behaves professionally, who does everything in a professional manner, who has professional attitudes, stands the best chance of being successful.

Do you really believe that? In my view it is not about attitudes/ behaviour but about product. First and foremost write the best book you can. Everything else is extra and the distinction between amateur and professional is between those who are lucky enough to get a contract and those who aren't. End of.
It is nice to think if you do the unimportant stuff conscientiously, properly, professionally, etc you will succeed, but it isn't so.

Jamesaritchie
09-30-2011, 10:16 PM
[QUOTE=Jamesaritchie;6599836]I think you're missing the point. An amateur who behaves as a professional is, in the take this article presents, already a professional. This is really an article about why many fail while others succeed.

The amateurs who behave unprofessionally will most likely remain amateurs until they change their ways. The amateur who behaves professionally, who does everything in a professional manner, who has professional attitudes, stands the best chance of being successful.

Do you really believe that? In my view it is not about attitudes/ behaviour but about product. First and foremost write the best book you can. Everything else is extra and the distinction between amateur and professional is between those who are lucky enough to get a contract and those who aren't. End of.
It is nice to think if you do the unimportant stuff conscientiously, properly, professionally, etc you will succeed, but it isn't so.

Attitude is extremely important. Of course it is, in the end, about product, but attitude can have a dramatic affect on the final product. How you approach writing, reading, studying, rewriting, querying, absolutely has an major impact on the final product.

Not one of the things mentioned in that article is unimportant.

You still need a degree of talent, of course. Without at least a little talent, not a heck of a lot, but some, you won't succeed no matter what. But most have enough talent. What they lack is the professional attitude that allows them to develop their talent to the fullest.

If you want to write the best book you possibly can, attitude plays a huge role. I see far more writers fail because of attitude, because of their approach to all these things, than I see fail due to lack of talent.

timewaster
09-30-2011, 10:25 PM
[QUOTE=timewaster;6599995]

Attitude is extremely important. Of course it is, in the end, about product, but attitude can have a dramatic affect on the final product. How you approach writing, reading, studying, rewriting, querying, absolutely has an major impact on the final product.

Not one of the things mentioned in that article is unimportant.

You still need a degree of talent, of course. Without at least a little talent, not a heck of a lot, but some, you won't succeed no matter what. But most have enough talent. What they lack is the professional attitude that allows them to develop their talent to the fullest.

If you want to write the best book you possibly can, attitude plays a huge role. I see far more writers fail because of attitude, because of their approach to all these things, than I see fail due to lack of talent.

I beg to differ. As long as you can deliver a good book the attitude and working habits that produced it are as irrelevant as your writing methodology. No one cares.

Jamesaritchie
10-01-2011, 03:18 AM
[QUOTE=Jamesaritchie;6600670]

I beg to differ. As long as you can deliver a good book the attitude and working habits that produced it are as irrelevant as your writing methodology. No one cares.

True. But for every writer who can deliver a good book while having unprofessional attitudes and an unprofessional approach, it's easy to find a hundred who fail because they lack lack these things.

As long as you can just doesn't say much. From my experience, if one writer in a hundred can manage this, they've worked a miracle.

It's not difficult to check out, either. Look at the successful writers out there. Their attitudes and methods and approaches along the road to success are pretty darned easy to learn, and they tell a revealing story.

For that matter, if you think writing methodology doesn't matter, you haven't known as many talented but failed new writers as I have.

As long as you can is true, but slush piles say that damned few can, and lack of a professional attitude and approach is absolutely one big reason why this is true.

And, of course, why in bloody blazes would any writer not want to have a professional attitude, not want to take the professional approach? It makes no sense at all.

Shadow_Ferret
10-01-2011, 04:57 AM
I beg to differ. As long as you can deliver a good book the attitude and working habits that produced it are as irrelevant as your writing methodology. No one cares.

I'm in agreement with James here. I don't think someone with a lousy attitude and sloppy working habits will be able to produce anything saleable. They won't have the work ethic and stick-to-itivism to put in the hard work needed to create a good book.

blacbird
10-01-2011, 06:35 AM
The points about writing may be on target, but the application of "professional" and "amateur" labels is utter bullshit. You're a "professional" when you get stuff accepted for publication and get paid for it. Until that happens, you're an "amateur". Nothing more complicated than that.

caw

Satsya
10-01-2011, 11:07 AM
The points about writing may be on target, but the application of "professional" and "amateur" labels is utter bullshit. You're a "professional" when you get stuff accepted for publication and get paid for it. Until that happens, you're an "amateur". Nothing more complicated than that.

caw

You can age and become a physical adult, but that doesn't mean you have the mental maturity of an adult.

This is the writing equivalent of that. ETA: The article may be one writer's opinion on what makes a person a professional (just as people have different views on what makes a person an adult), but on the whole, it gets some good basic points across: be mature, be patient, and such.




I beg to differ. As long as you can deliver a good book the attitude and working habits that produced it are as irrelevant as your writing methodology. No one cares.

The people in the industry that have to put up with your habits care. And your fans will care, if your working habits or attitude eventually clash with your writing, as often happens.

I'm with James. Taking an unprofessional attitude will only cause your career harm, no matter how brilliant of a writer you are. Why knowingly give yourself a disadvantage?

Fruitbat
10-01-2011, 11:22 AM
I agree with Blacbird. A professional writer has writing as their profession. They make their living at it.

skylark
10-01-2011, 12:08 PM
Apparently I am a professional writer.

Which should be interesting legally, since I write fanfic.

I'm with the people who said that this is the difference between people who have the right attitude and people who don't. But I don't think it has anything to do with being a professional. It's just that it would be very difficult to be a professional if you didn't have that attitude, whereas you can be an amateur with any attitude.

bearilou
10-01-2011, 01:42 PM
The points about writing may be on target, but the application of "professional" and "amateur" labels is utter bullshit. You're a "professional" when you get stuff accepted for publication and get paid for it. Until that happens, you're an "amateur". Nothing more complicated than that.

caw

I think that's what bugged be about an otherwise interesting blog article. The application of these labels which, as far as I was concerned, were misapplied.

The intent behind it? I think I agreed with for the most part. The labels themselves? Kind of bugged me.

timewaster
10-01-2011, 02:10 PM
You can age and become a physical adult, but that doesn't mean you have the mental maturity of an adult.

This is the writing equivalent of that. ETA: The article may be one writer's opinion on what makes a person a professional (just as people have different views on what makes a person an adult), but on the whole, it gets some good basic points across: be mature, be patient, and such.



The people in the industry that have to put up with your habits care. And your fans will care, if your working habits or attitude eventually clash with your writing, as often happens.


How the hell do you or indeed they know what my habits are or indeed, my attitudes?
The only thing that matters is that somehow or other a decent book gets written and delivered.

I'm with James. Taking an unprofessional attitude will only cause your career harm, no matter how brilliant of a writer you are. Why knowingly give yourself a disadvantage?

I agree you need to do some things like deliver on time, though having said that some really great writers didn't or haven't. But this is writing books we are talking about.Most of us work from home and no one knows too much about our habits. I agree with blacbird - sell books and you are a pro. There is no great mystery about it, no behaviours
that will deliver success, just write a saleable book.

timewaster
10-01-2011, 02:23 PM
[QUOTE=timewaster;6600718]

True. But for every writer who can deliver a good book while having unprofessional attitudes and an unprofessional approach, it's easy to find a hundred who fail because they lack lack these things.

As long as you can just doesn't say much. From my experience, if one writer in a hundred can manage this, they've worked a miracle.

It's not difficult to check out, either. Look at the successful writers out there. Their attitudes and methods and approaches along the road to success are pretty darned easy to learn, and they tell a revealing story.

For that matter, if you think writing methodology doesn't matter, you haven't known as many talented but failed new writers as I have.

As long as you can is true, but slush piles say that damned few can, and lack of a professional attitude and approach is absolutely one big reason why this is true.

And, of course, why in bloody blazes would any writer not want to have a professional attitude, not want to take the professional approach? It makes no sense at all.

I just object to the notion that there is such a thing as a'professional' attitude and an 'amateur' attitude. There are different approaches to writing. Successful writers tend to write quite a lot and persist through bad times but even that isn't true of everyone.
I think what irks me is the implication that the kind of person that you are matters one jot. I know a lot of pro writers and they all work differently and have varied approaches and attitudes. I know a lot of amateurs too and I would say the same. Some have got a great attitude but are a very long way from being published.
There are a lot of bad mss out there that's why the slush piles are so big; that has nothing to do with the attitude of their producers.
People focus on attitudes etc only because they are easier to change than the quality of the work.

timewaster
10-01-2011, 02:35 PM
I'm in agreement with James here. I don't think someone with a lousy attitude and sloppy working habits will be able to produce anything saleable. They won't have the work ethic and stick-to-itivism to put in the hard work needed to create a good book.

And your evidence is?
The truth is that all we see is a published book we tend not to know how that came about. Sure whoever wrote it needed to have the wherewithall to finish it and edit it - that's the important bit. The rest, well - who knows.

Satsya
10-01-2011, 10:12 PM
So what if it were the same advice, but without mentioning amateur or professional?

What if it instead was written: "this is my experienced opinion on a bad writing attitude to take; this is my experienced opinion on a good writing attitude to take"?

Not quite as catchy as "amateur" and "professional", but it might be closer to the truth.

Fruitbat
10-01-2011, 10:34 PM
I agree, Satsya. The problem is the terms are getting confused. I would say yes, there are such things as having a professional attitude or an amateur attitude. And, I would assume there is some correlation with how seriously you take it all and how correctly you behave with it and your success with it. But, no, that is not the same as BEING a professional writer or an amateur writer. IMO, that is determined by whether it's how you make your living or not, not by your "attitude." Your "profession" is how you earn your living.

virtue_summer
10-01-2011, 10:55 PM
Now, see I had no problem with the terms amateur and professional. It's like if I'm going to a job interview and I'm advised to dress and act professionally. I don't have the job yet, so I'm not a professional there yet, but the professional attitude advice still stands. That's how I read this. And if you read the link, under the first heading of writing there are references to "amateur aspiring writer" and "professional aspiring writer" which, again, makes me feel this is talking about professional attitudes.

timewaster
10-01-2011, 11:01 PM
So what if it were the same advice, but without mentioning amateur or professional?

What if it instead was written: "this is my experienced opinion on a bad writing attitude to take; this is my experienced opinion on a good writing attitude to take"?

Not quite as catchy as "amateur" and "professional", but it might be closer to the truth.

I would be even less definitive and suggest that some attitudes may be more helpful than others. I wouldn't disagree with the weaker claim- they may well be for some people and it sounds like the list rings true for several people here - just not me.

PrincessofPersia
10-02-2011, 12:17 AM
Now, see I had no problem with the terms amateur and professional. It's like if I'm going to a job interview and I'm advised to dress and act professionally. I don't have the job yet, so I'm not a professional there yet, but the professional attitude advice still stands. That's how I read this. And if you read the link, under the first heading of writing there are references to "amateur aspiring writer" and "professional aspiring writer" which, again, makes me feel this is talking about professional attitudes.

That's how I took it. They say dress for the job you want. I read the article as telling you how a professional writer typically thinks and acts. If you want to be a professional writer, having these attitudes and behaviours is a good start. Acting like a pro doesn't make you a pro, but it is a good step in the right direction.

ETA: There definitely were a few things that I didn't quite agree with, but it's just one person's opinion. I'm not going to change my methods over one article.

Mr Flibble
10-02-2011, 02:08 AM
It seems okay on the whole, but parts are arbitrary/subjective.

A professional writer structures first....Do they? Will I miraculously start structuring my books in detail before I write them? *pauses to snortle*

Now, I may have to write to a synopsis that I have proposed (I may not, depends, are we talking a series? In which case i might have to. Or a stand alone, in which case I may well not)...but even so, how detailed is that synopsis? A one para one is pretty loose...Maybe I just have 'And so people get killed and then MC finds out it was Big Bad and so he shoots him in the face'


Maybe lots of stuff - but there are plenty of writers who make a living, who do not structure in advance but in the second draft and yet do very well. Are they not professional? Is structuring a novel in advance the 'right' (professional) way to do it? You know, I'm not sure.



This is one person's take on what professional means in publishing. Some good points. Things to consider. Not gospel.

ETA: Personally my points on being professional

1- always deliver on time

2 - always deliver the best you can (however you do that)

3 - Never answer an email with your first response to an editorial letter (Wahh! What? But..but....oh, yeah, you've got a point there...)

4 - be polite

5 be accepting of what is expected of you

6 know which battles to pick and which to let slide gracefully

Paul
10-02-2011, 02:21 AM
personally I have learnt the value of outlining - but only short notes, nothing too detailed.

i think here structuring could mean keeping an eye on the 'hits', the pacing, the overview

hits = the well emotional hits, climax hits and pacing of these hits

Paul
10-02-2011, 02:25 AM
I agree, Satsya. The problem is the terms are getting confused. I would say yes, there are such things as having a professional attitude or an amateur attitude. And, I would assume there is some correlation with how seriously you take it all and how correctly you behave with it and your success with it. But, no, that is not the same as BEING a professional writer or an amateur writer. IMO, that is determined by whether it's how you make your living or not, not by your "attitude." Your "profession" is how you earn your living.
+1

I do think the line' writing is about grown up' pretty interesting. and true.

What i got from it was the idea of not defining yourself be your writing, but rather being already defined and writing being a part of that definition.

Mr Flibble
10-02-2011, 02:28 AM
It could - but as it's not clear (clarity, that darling of the professional writer ;)) it's hard to say. What I call structure is somewhat different. I think.. Even if that is what she meant, I fail. But anyway, apparently I don't write like a pro. Her meaning is presumably : like her.

Different writers write different ways. As long as the book you promised comes in on time, in the same vein as you promised it, I think you're being pro. Even if you have a big folder called NOTES

Paul
10-02-2011, 02:38 AM
It could - but as it's not clear (clarity, that darling of the professional writer ;)) it's hard to say. What I call structure is somewhat different. I think.. Even if that is what she meant, I fail. But anyway, apparently I don't write like a pro. Her meaning is presumably : like her.

Different writers write different ways. As long as the book you promised comes in on time, in the same vein as you promised it, I think you're being pro. Even if you have a big folder called NOTES
i think she was anti big notes, as i am.

but to me the essence is the emotional attachment - too erratic and personal for the amateur, no so for the pro.

heyjude
10-02-2011, 02:55 PM
It seems okay on the whole, but parts are arbitrary/subjective.

A professional writer structures first....Do they? Will I miraculously start structuring my books in detail before I write them? *pauses to snortle*

Idiots, my friend, you said exactly what I thought when I read the article (without the snortle, though there may have been some raised eyebrows). I don't outline, but I can deliver an ms when I say I will. Do I get ideas that sometimes go into the pile labeled "That didn't work"? Sure. It would surprise me if most writers didn't.

Definitely subjective. But it's important to approach writing with a professional attitude if you intend to make it a profession (Princess mentioned dressing for the job you want--I think that's an excellent way to look at it).

Mr Flibble
10-02-2011, 07:24 PM
Definitely subjective. But it's important to approach writing with a professional attitude if you intend to make it a profession (Princess mentioned dressing for the job you want--I think that's an excellent way to look at it).

Oh, you need a pro attitude for sure. But think about dressing for that interview - You look smart and poised (read your MS is shiny and perfect) Do they know that you're feeling sick with nerves and are wearing your lucky knickers with the holes in they are so old? (read that you pantsed your novel)

PrincessofPersia
10-02-2011, 08:41 PM
i think she was anti big notes, as i am.

but to me the essence is the emotional attachment - too erratic and personal for the amateur, no so for the pro.

I dunno what she would think of me. I don't have a set schedule when I write, I have the TV and music on along with AIM, I take a lot of breaks to eat and diddle around. I don't outline anything, nor do I keep any sort of notes on paper. Also, I've never read a single writing book. Not even On Writing (although I've been meaning to check that one out just because I love King).

But 99% of what I've written has been for pay. So, I'm a professional whether she agrees or not.