14 March 2010

Are you professional? The test

However much I admire what Raindance does for the UK's independent filmmakers, and enjoy their newsletter, there are times when it has me spitting venom.

This is the latest bit of their newsletter that really grates: 

"Those of you who know me, will know that for years I have dabbled at home - drawings, painting and a bit of writing.
"Christmas time this year, I realised that to move ahead with these creative projects, I needed to spend more than just 2/3 hours a week.
"My New Year's Resolution was to spend at least 10 hours a week pursuing these pastimes. 
"But what does that make me?  
"Here's my theory:
  • 2 hours or less per week - hobbyist
  • 10 hours per week - talented amateur 
  • 20 hours per week - semi pro 
  • 40 or more hours per week - professional" 

    This view - you're a professional if you spend X amount of hours doing something - gets in my nerves, no matter who says it.

    I've met plenty of writers who spend a great deal of time justifying why they are a professional writer: they write a certain amount of words a day; they writer for a certain length of time a day; they're respectful to other people; they meet deadlines; they take pride in their work; they’re always open to criticism for every quarter; they read every book, magazine and blog on writing they can find; or their spelling and grammar are impeccable.

    While behaving in those ways are laudable, and will help you become a professional writer, they won’t turn you into a professional by themselves.

    This is how to tell - with absolute certainty - if you are a professional writer.

    Answer yes or no to the following question: Do you get paid for your work?

    If you answer “yes”, you’re a professional.

    If you answer “no”, you’re an amateur.

    Professionals get paid for their work. Amateurs don't.

    As the catchphrase goes: Simples.

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