“Is writing about money or being more professional?”

This is an excellent
question and one that several people have asked over the course of me writing
for this blog. As such, I want to give it the air time it deserves. Over the
next couple posts we will examine this issue in more detail and (hopefully)
come to some sort of conclusion. The reason this is such a tough concept to
deal with as a writer is that common practice is to consider the concept of making money as being synonymous to being a professional writer. On one hand, this isn’t
incorrect. There are still these kind of definitions rolling around:
Merriam-Webster:
“participating
for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by
amateurs”


“engaged
in by persons receiving financial return”

            There is a caveat here though! These types of definitions, I
believe, are borne of a rise in our lives relying more and more heavily on making
money. As such they detract from what I believe to be the essence of the word “professional.”
Consider this: definitions are primarily subjective in the sense that they
apply to a specific context. In the case of the definitions above they both
were relating to professional sport-players.
                             I actually prefer a definition I
found in a medical dictionary:
the whole body of persons engaged in
a calling”

            To me
this speaks to the soul of what we are doing here. Many of us write because we
can’t imagine ourselves doing anything else. Others of us just write because
the words flow through us and we feel inspired to write them down. For others
it is the community that we immerse ourselves in that inspires us and keeps us writing.
That’s not to say that for some of us we don’t just write because we happen to
be getting paid to do it, but I’m confident when we are discussing what it
means to be a professional writer… there is just more to it.
            If we
trace the somewhat complicated origin of the word and its etymology through
history, professional actually comes from roots meaning “to profess” or “acknowledge”
and usually pertained to some sort of vow to live up to the highest standard of
the skill or trade you practiced. Isn’t this what we aspire to do as writers?

            So
what does being a professional mean to you? Does it mean making money with your
writing? Does it reflect the standard you expect from yourself in your writing?
Or does it mean something totally different? I want to hear from you! Then in
my next post I want to discuss how to consolidate being a professional with
making money into a balanced and healthy lifestyle for you as a writer.