“Professional” is really slippery word. Folks fight bitterly for the right to be termed a “professional”. My “day job” profession fought for years to be called “technologist” instead of “technician” because it was more “professional”. Fifty Foot Shadows has a great discussion on the concept in the photography world.
Much as Fifty Foot Shadows points out, the term is far from clear-cut. Here’s some real life examples (collected over the last few years) from the writing world.
- One author told me that he didn’t consider any writer to be a professional unless that was the way they made their living. No day job. No spouse providing other benefits. Just writing.
- One author told me that he didn’t consider any writer to be a professional unless they were good enough of a writer to get paid for their work.
- One author told me that he didn’t consider any writer to be a professional unless they acted to a certain code of civil conduct, no matter what they got paid.
Three different definitions, all passionately defended. All of them deeply flawed. None of them wrong.
Here is a step-by-step guide to dealing with this problem:
- Screw other people’s labels and validation.
- Define what “success” means to you. Ignore all others.
- Make your goals things that you control. Things you can’t control aren’t goals.
- Haters exit stage right, pursued by a bear.