Being a Professional Writer

Professional Writer: A writer who is paid to write

According to that definition, I’m a professional writer. I get paid to write articles for Today I Found Out, to cover town government meetings, and to write copy for an educational website.

But actually convincing myself I’m a professional writer is a bit like convincing myself that I’m a year older on my birthday. I never feel any different on May 31st than I did on May 30th. I am, though. And I’ve been different ever since publishing my first paid article online. For one, being paid for writing makes it a whole lot easier to get other paid jobs. (Writing for TIFO and the newspaper probably helped me to land my copywriting gig.)

None of that changed how I feel. Each time I sit down at desk to write an article, the words that escape my fingers and end up in the Microsoft Word document jumble together. They don’t read like anything a professional would put to paper. Even revising the heck out of a piece doesn’t seem to make it much better.

I struggle not to think of myself as a fraud. As someone who doesn’t write well enough to merit being paid. That’s a complete load of bull, and my rational mind knows it. The newspaper editor often leaves most of my writing alone when publishing my coverage of meetings. Edits done of my written copy and my articles for TIFO tend to be relatively minor as well.

There’s a bit of irony in this disbelief. Publishing is a highly competitive, constantly uncertain, and too often a negative place to be for writers struggling to get traction. People, whether in the industry or readers, don’t hold back in their criticism. They aren’t always polite when they express their feelings either.

The funny thing is that negative and critical words about my writing don’t faze me. I’ve probably said worse about it myself. Besides, not everyone is going to like each and every single piece of writing out there. It doesn’t make them or the author a bad person or have bad tastes. They’re just different. What I write isn’t going to be for everyone.

But most of all, deep down inside, I know that I’m a good writer. That confidence just likes to do a disappearing act when it comes to submitting work as a professional writer.

I doubt this feeling will ever go away. The trick is going to be telling it to take a long walk off a very short pier because I am a professional writer. A good one at that.

Do you ever doubt yourself as a writer? How do you overcome that feeling?

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