Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How Journalism Can Make You a Better Novelist – Be Professional

'A Lessons from the Newsroom’ Series: Part 5
(You can read the rest of the series here)

“You’re a writer, huh? So I guess that means you come up with stuff and write it down and… stuff."

Really, it’s no wonder that this is the way some people view writers. There are too many who are claiming the title of writer but aren’t living up to the hard-earned reputation of their predecessors. They’re not being professionals.

When I started working at a newspaper I had, literally, come straight off the farm. I had just graduated homeschool high school and had no college education or schooling in journalism. 

So when my editor decided to take a chance on me and give me the job, I did the one thing that I’ve always been really good at – I faked it.

Yup, I totally faked the fact that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

Fake It Right.

I came to work only knowing that I knew how to write. I pretended I was a professional and imitated what I saw others in my industry doing.

And you know what? Before long, I actually started to believe I was a professional, and I was even complemented about my level professionalism by customers and others in the industry.

Be A Copy Cat.

Mimicking is okay. After all, isn’t that how we learn important life skills as kids? We copy what we see adults doing in hopes of becoming just like them someday.

Copy what successful authors do until you find your own groove of knowing and understanding – because with practice comes understanding. Look at the habits of other writers.

Successful writers get up several hours early to devote time to their craft. They take time to craft their social media updates and emails. They not only publicly declare that they are writers, but they show up to do the work and prove that they are worthy of the title.

All For One, One For All.

Writing is not just an industry. It’s also a community. And within that community, there is definitely a ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ type of atmosphere.

As such, it’s really upsetting when one writer does something that reflects badly on the whole writing community. If you’re going to be a writer, you have to be professional. For all our sakes.

All Eyes On You.

Once you declare yourself a writer, people are going to train their eyes on you and watch your every move. They’re going to watch at what you say and do; they’re going to be critical of your Facebook posts and tweets.

The public is going to be using all of this as a means of judging whether your book is worth their time.

If you are writing with even the slightest hope or want of being published someday you have to carry a professional persona.

Are you practicing professionalism as a writer? What are you doing to prove you’re worthy of the writer label?

4 comments:

  1. I am a fan of the 'fake fake til you make it' philosophy as well. Great post, Amanda.

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  2. It is VERY true that people start watching every tweet and Facebook comment the second they find out you're a writer. I love that you mentioned that because it feels like the pressure grows with every passing day. Haha! I have definitely become more aware of the details because of it, even being more OCD than normal about spelling and grammar. Isn't that funny how that happens? (: Loved this post!

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    1. Haha! Thanks Katie - you always "get" it!

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