I’ve been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work the last couple of weeks. A lot of it is assembling notes and research, putting outlines together, communicating with folks to line up more work. It feels like I’ve been really busy.
Unfortunately, it’s all false productivity.
Things have kept me from the keyboard, but I still do what I can to stay busy and be prepared for that precious keyboard time. It’s the actual keyboard time, however, that counts. I can spend all year with the notes, research, and email, but until these things make their way onto a page that’s available for sale in some form or another, it doesn’t count for squat.
That includes the blog. I haven’t had time to keep it up since my vacation, but while it does serve its purpose, it’s not the priority. The same goes for social media. The priority has to be the clack clack clack that outputs an actual draft. The clickety-clack that outputs a pitch that becomes a gig. The clack clack clickety outputs an outline attached to a business proposal. The priority has to be the writing and the rewriting.
The priority has to be the clack clack clack that becomes the cha-ching of cash flow.
Not coincidentally, this is what makes one a professional writer. “Professional” should be suggestive of its root word: profession. You know, job. Career. Trade.
Whether one is obsessively pounding away at the keys to the detriment of his home, family, and social life or making occasional forays into the office for hurried spurts of writing between a day job and family and social life doesn’t matter. This is all differing views of what a writer should be, and it’s often an idealized point of view, not a practical one. It’s very subjective.
Writing to get paid, or to at least get content out there to build future pay upon, is enough to be professional. Everything else is that same false productivity, and trying to put a compensation level or success level on it is just splitting hairs. It may matter for some status in an organization, but in the big picture, really, who gives a shit?
Finally, I’d like to point out that by some folks’ standards, J.D. Salinger would not be a professional writer. That just seems kind of foolish, doesn’t it?