What are the upsides of being a professional writer?

What are the upsides of being a professional writer?

A few days ago, I published a piece in The Writing Cooperative titled ‘What are the downsides of being a professional writer?’.

You can read it here.

A reader asked me to write a response piece about the upsides to being a professional writer.

Here goes…

[Sidebar: There are many positives to being a professional writer. I don’t intend to list them all.]

1. I work my own hours

Watch a movie on a Wednesday morning? No problem.

Coffee with friends at midday on a Friday? Sure thing.

As a remote-working writer, I get to work my own hours. Don’t get me wrong, I often work weekends to make up for time lost during the week. (I actually prefer working weekends if I can. Nobody bothers me. My emails are off. I can write without distraction.)

Point is, I get to pick and choose when I work.

My housemate is a freelance Saxophonist. He often works evenings and weekends and has his weekdays free. We’ll grab brunch, drink coffee, play chess etc…

It’s just a pleasant feeling to have full control over my Monday to Sunday. I don’t have to be anywhere if I don’t want to be.

[Note: I actually don’t abuse this all that much. If I can try, I’ll work as close to a 9-to-5 between Monday and Friday for the sake of compartmentalising my work and personal life.]

2. I’m always practicing

I write personally as well as professionally. That is, when I’m not working on a blog post for a company, I’m working on a short story, writing in a diary, working on ‘the novel’, or writing here on Medium.

Professional writing has to be at a high standard, however. Personal writing doesn’t.

Good writing is practiced writing, and commercial copywriting is a great way to get practice in for personal creative endeavours.

I wrote three blogs posts yesterday (two for work, one for play) and I have another two to write today. That’s approximately 5,000 words across two days.

Don’t get me wrong, it can sometimes be a slog, but I mostly enjoy my craft.

I count myself lucky to be able to write so much.

3. All I need is my laptop

I write on planes, trains and automobiles (so long as I’m not driving, of course).

I’ve worked for a month in Vancouver, Canada. I’ve worked for a week in Dublin, Ireland. In Scotland, Paris…

I intend to ever-expand this list. Travelling is fun, and it’s a sure-fire (I hate that term) way to keep yourself creatively inspired, even when you’re slugging through a 2,000-word white paper about artificial intelligence.

4. You can turn the world off when you want to

This is a big one for me.

I hate busy work. Responding to people and checking emails feels like a waste of my time because I’m not directly creating something.

Sure, it’s essential work that must get done, but it’s a bother to work through, especially if it’s all the time.

I can more about delivering quality work.

[SIDEBAR: I realise only now that a lot of what I’ve said already is aimed more at a remote-working professional writer. There are many professional writers who work from offices. I’m sorry if I’ve misled you…]

As a remote-working writer, I can switch off my phone, turn off my emails and put my noise-cancelling headphones on (check out these Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones. I have a pair and they’re a treat) and enter that rare state of flow. No distractions.

5. You learn, a lot

70 percent of good writing is research. I’d argue that actually writing constitutes to about 10 percent of the pie, with editing and reworks making up the remaining 20 percent.

I write on a lot of different topics. Cloud computing, artificial intelligence, coffee, health and wellbeing, education… the list goes on. I even write about acme nuts and screw jacks on some occasions.

Every topic is heavily researched. Professional writers are self-teachers. They take a topic, learn about it, and then talk about it in an authoritative tone of voice.

As a result, professional writing is often extremely diverse. Everything you can think of can be written about in some way or another. Blogs, then, make for the perfect learning experience.

It’s been an interesting journey so far, I can tell you that much…