Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Happy Holidays and Why I Say It

I write this greeting because I have friends from so many traditions that Merry Christmas isn’t appropriate for all, and how I am to know what holidays they celebrate unless they tell me?

Since there are 29 holiday celebrations between November 1st and January 15th, it makes perfect sense to be more inclusive with the “Happy Holidays” saying. How that is taking away from Christmas escapes me!

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, Festivus, or any of the other seasonal holidays, I wish you a safe and joyous one!

See you next year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Contrarian View of the Hero's Journey Character Arc

Full circle, from the tomb of the womb to the womb of the tomb, we come: an ambiguous, enigmatical incursion into a world of solid matter that is soon to melt from us, like the substance of a dream. And, looking back at what had promised to be our own unique, unpredictable, and dangerous adventure, all we find in the end is such a series of standard metamorphoses as men and women have undergone in every quarter of the world, in all recorded centuries, and under every odd disguise of civilization.

This quote by Joseph Campbell appears in The Hero with a Thousand Faces (first printing 1949), the metaphorical bible for those wanting to write a classic hero’s journey story. Campbell, an eminent mythologist, looked at myths going back in time and across cultures and noted a number of similarities. He explicated those in The Hero with a Thousand Faces as well as others of his works.

Campbell identified archetypes he noted in myths, which we added into our repertoire of tropes. Tropes aren’t so bad. They are shortcuts and signal character traits so we can focus on other aspects of story. A while back, on another of my blogs, I wrote two posts, Part One and Part Two, on how tropes make writing easier but not easy.

Stereotypes are the extreme end of tropes. Where is the fresh take? Unreliable narrators as in Gone Girl and Code Name Verity turn the hero’s journey into a non-predictable path. The danger with tropes and archetypes who must complete every step of the Hero’s Journey is falling into predictable and mediocre stories. Universality is a strength and a limitation.

Using Campbell’s description of the Hero’s Journey in myths became the chichi (pretentious and overelaborate refinement) thing to do when writing one’s protagonist, male or female. The fact that it didn’t quite fit every story structure or didn’t quite fit females who operate differently in interactions, didn’t affect the popularity of creating the Hero’s Journey positive character arc.

In reaction, I suspect, The Virgin’s Promise: Writing Stories of Feminine Creative, Spirtitual, and Sexual Awakening (Kim Hudson), was penned. What stage is your female character? Virgin, Mother, or Crone? Each has her journey, but the same female journey, like Campbell’s fell into identifiable stages:
Dependent world
Price of conformity
Opportunity to shine
Dresses the part
Secret World
No longer fits her world
Caught shining
Gives up what kept her back
Kingdom in chaos
Wanders in the wilderness
Chooses her light
Re-ordering (rescue)
The Kingdom is brighter

While the Hero’s Journey and the feminine journey make perfect sense to me when analyzing traditional literature (folk/fairytales, myths, and such), using them as a template for writing is not as easy. For me, anyway. I often felt I was force-fitting or having to retrofit to include all the stages.

This may be the most common arc in character development and change, but I’ve found these formulae restrictive. Does a character have to go through each stage? Are the stages appropriate in all genres? I can see the application in fantasy, but what about cozy mysteries? Does one need all of the stages?

I posit that not all of the stages are appropriate in every genre.

After all, Campbell was analyzing myths. I’ve never read that he thought the Hero’s Journey should be a template for writing stories. I wonder what he’d say if he learned his Hero’s Journey had become THE formula for writing character development.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What is a Flat Character Arc?

K.M Weiland, author of Creating Character Arcs, has this to say about the flat arc:

… the flat arc is about a character who does not change. He already has the Truth figured out in the beginning of the story, and he uses that Truth to help him overcome various external tests.

In comparison to a positive change arc, the difference in a flat character arc’s Second Act is that the emphasis is not on the protagonist’s discovering and confronting his own inner misconceptions. Rather, the Second Act in a flat arc is where he will be discovering the Lie embedded in the world around him.

The Third Act is where we find arguably the greatest similarities between the flat character arc and the positive change arc, since in both types of story the protagonist will have a full grasp on the Truth by this point. The primary difference, of course, is that the protagonist in a flat character arc will have already been in possession of that Truth almost universally throughout the story.

Hmmm. Did that make sense to you? I had to read it a couple of times to get the gist. The “Truth figured out in the beginning”? The “Lie embedded in the world around him”? So, I kept reading other resources to find out more. As I read, I encountered additional phraseology that I had to puzzle out. Terms like “Crucial Element”, “Focus Element”, “Direction Element”, and more!

Weiland writes that “the fundamental principle of character arc is lie vs. truth.” The Lie the character believes and uncovers in a change arc is under the radar. It is a bedrock belief the character holds. “I’m worthless.” “I’m God’s gift to women.” And so on. That misconception is revealed and dealt with (the Truth), thus effecting character change. This Lie needs to be connected to the story organically. If the story problem and the Lie don’t connect, the story is not as compelling.

In the flat character arc, this doesn’t play out. There are still Lies and Truths, they just don’t affect the story solution substantively. Remember, the Steadfast Character knows the truth from the beginning.

It turns out that the flat character arc goes by many names and is the second most used arc for main characters. You might see it referred to as the “testing arc” or “Main Character Resolve”, or “Steadfast Character.”

It also turns out that the Steadfast Character tends to see the story conflict not as “me against the obstacle”, but rather views the obstacle as the problem by itself, apart from the Steadfast Character. The Steadfast Character moves elements around in the story to restore balance and is unaffected by the move of elements, though the story is impacted for the better.

Most antagonists in our books have flat character arcs. They are who they are. They have a job to do—disrupt the life of the main character—and they do it without changing who they are or seeking/gaining insight into themselves or others. We’re not surprised by the lack of growth of the antagonist, in fact. We expect it.

But many protagonists also demonstrate a flat character arc, and we’re fine with that in a deftly handled story. Think Kinsey Milhone, PI, the main character in Sue Grafton’s Alphabet mysteries. Kinsey knows who she is and what is True. There is little character change within and across books, but she uses her character traits to solve the crimes. Her moral compass is clear to her as are her talents. She gets ‘er done!

Dramatica.com, in their dictionary of terms, says a steadfast character “ultimately retains his essential nature from the beginning of the story to the end of the story.” They also go on to state, “There will only be one Steadfast Character in every story.”

That’s very directive, isn’t it? I wonder why that is the case. Maybe because conflict is not deeply developed when two major characters remain unchanged by events and circumstances?

Or the story conflict could be developed when the two steadfast characters are on opposite tracks. If one is on the right track, and won’t change but has to deal with someone on the wrong track, who also won’t change, isn’t that conflict enough? I wonder what it would be like to write a story flouting the “rule” of only one steadfast character? One would have to “win” (whatever winning would mean), so why not?

However, in that scenario, each Steadfast Character would have the Truth from the beginning and each have the Lie, so maybe that’s why it wouldn’t work. If both know the Truth, where is the conflict? Aaarrgh! See why I am still confused and working on this principle of only one Steadfast Character?

From what I’ve read, the Lie must be uncovered and discounted by the Truth by the end of the story. Maybe that’s not possible with two Steadfastians!

One important aspect of the Steadfast Character’s possession of the truth early on is the role of doubt. Perhaps the character isn’t 100% sure of the Truth or has trouble accepting the Truth to move on in life. Adding in doubt, even if fleeting, includes a new level of tension. Being open to questioning Truth is human and can result in second guessing or hesitating at critical moments in the story.

One important role for the Steadfast character is shis possession of the Truth inspires and props up others. Also, by the end of the story, though heesh may have had doubts or even wondered if the Truth were worth the battle, the Steadfast character will come out on the other side believing in the Truth even more strongly and support others in believing it, too.

The Steadfast Character sounds like a very interesting challenge, encouraging the writer to delve even more deeply than the positive character arc requires.

Have you written a flat character arc story? Tell me aobut it in the comments section.

Bloggers rely on readers. I would be very appreciative of shares to your social media outlets. Here are some copy/paste messages for easy sharing.

Facebook: What in the heck is a “flat character arc”? A “Steadfast Character”? Sharon Arthur Moore is still learning, too, and she wants to share her current understanding with you. http://bit.ly/2nOwfr7

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Writing a Negative Character Arc

Antagonists need not be the only negative characters in your novel. Sometimes your protagonist takes a downward turn. In fact, your actual antagonist may well be an example of a flat character arc (which is next week’s topic).

That’s because to be in a negative character arc, the character must devolve from one state to a more negative one. A downward instead of upward arc. But there must be change as in the traditional positive character arc, aka, the hero’s journey.

Anti-heroes may be an example of a negative character arc, if the anti-hero was transformed by events from a neutral or positive stance to a negative one over the course of the story. For example, Walter White, from the “Breaking Bad” television series, is thrust by circumstances into finding a way to provide for his family when he finds he is dying. The only way he can see is an illegal one, and it is a path particularly well-suited to his positive-trait talents. He shifts his focus from good to bad gradually, reluctantly (at first), until he becomes an evil hunted by the FBI.

Other instances might be a character—good, normal, Mr./Ms. Bland—who becomes a vigilante searching for revenge for one or more perceived injustices. The character devolves from a law-abiding one into a character who justifies shis behaviors as necessary to right wrongs. When one’s child is harmed, parental outrage can be turned to revenge-seeking. When a guilty character is released without punishment, an average character can be turn into a vigilante seeking justice.

One interesting way to portray the negative character arc is to make the character manipulative to the point where heesh is an unreliable narrator. Your reader doesn’t know whether to trust what heesh is being told. Are the character’s perceptions accurate? Is the character justified in pushing the envelope or even destroying the envelope? Is what heesh is doing as wrong as the wrong being righted? Is your villain convinced of shis own rightness even though the world views shim as wrong? Has heesh lied to shimself.

As a college student, I saw the film, Bonnie and Clyde. My friend and I left the theater and didn’t say a word to one another for a couple of blocks. For me, it was the first time I had recognized moral ambiguity. The good guys were brutal murderers of the bad guys. And were the bad guys really that bad? They were normal folks who turned to crime during the Depression when jobs weren’t available. I was stunned that the answer wasn’t clear as it typically was.

The devolution of Bonnie and Clyde had to be believable. Walter White had to see no other options. A deft touch is required to write a negative character arc, which is likely why most of our villains have a flat arc.

Some have written that the negative and positive character arcs play out the same way over the three-act structure. But instead of confronting shis greatest flaw/fear and overcoming it, in the negative character arc, the character succumbs to it and becomes even more evil/immoral/depressed. 

K.M. Weiland put it very well. “In a word, the negative character arc is about failure, and this becomes nowhere more clear than in the Third Act. If the positive change arc is about redeeming self and the flat arc is about saving others, then the negative character arc is about destroying self and probably others as well.”
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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Character Arc in a Series

Over the years, at conferences and online, I’ve asked others who write series how you deal with a character arc everyone insists must be there. In a standalone novel, the requisite character arc is expected and easy to do. But what about character arc in series writing?

It is only recently that I have come across some good answers to my question. Just to be clear, the question I asked was is there a long character arc, spanning the series or is there a series of book length arcs that might be related but that are accomplished by the end of each book?

Well, the answer appears to be, “Yes.”

K.M. Weiland, whose book is pictured above, has written extensively about character development. She says there are two choices: An arc for the entire series OR multiple character arcs across books in the series.

Well, I kinda knew that, but now what? When I asked the initial question (over and over), I really meant HOW do I write the character arc.

Weiland and others have lost of suggestions no matter which way one goes. Weiland is a big three-acts-in-a-novel person, so she offers her suggestions from that context. Character arcs across three or four books, she says, just means manipulating the time line (for character development) using that structure across books, not within.

That’s probably one reason we see books where our hero/ine hits the dirt in book two or three before salvaging shimself in the final book. The character, to change, has to encounter obstacles severe enough to force shim to change, for better or worse.

Ultimately, character change, to be real in a novel, must be intimately connected to the core values in a story. So if the value is that real family need not share blood to be family, then your character must not understand or accept that in the beginning, but encounters obstacles that reveal that to shim. Weiland calls it the Big Lie the character believes but must abandon by the end of the series.

In a series, the change in the character is incremental. A big shift starts the change process, disturbs status quo, interrupts ennui. In succeeding books the change continues but can be more gradual.

Some series are really just one long novel, like The Hunger Games (thus the three-act structure works well). Others are really standalones, but written as a series; connected to one another but the plots are independent. Thus, the long character arc goes across books all the books versus a series of smaller, but related, character arcs in each book, as I do with my culinary series. But underneath the smaller character arcs is the larger one set up in my first book. Alli struggles with what is family and she struggles with self-worth going back to her abandonment by her family. By book six, I need her to have finished that cycle.

For me, the smaller character arcs in each book present a special challenge. How can they be substantive enough without eclipsing the overarching theme of family and identity?

The best way, according to what I’ve been reading is to tie each smaller arc to the main conflict in the story. For example, in book five, Tequila Mockingbird, Alli discovers that a neighbor is a mockingbird, someone pretending to be who she is not. Alli feels this way all the time. She has suffered from Imposter Syndrome most of her life. Therefore, she has empathy for a woman who may be a cold-blooded killer. In that book, Alli needs to accept herself and how she presents herself to the world. That’s a great small character arc consistent with the long arc.

Sarah Dalziel says there are five keys to creating a character arc in a series. The five keys are: Consistency, Changing Traits, The Dissatisfying Arc, Every Character Needs a Flaw, and Write It Out.

In a nutshell, Consistency is obvious. Once you change your character, don’t retreat to the previous person. Keep shim the same across books for revealed traits.

Changing Traits allows the author to focus on different aspects of the character in each book. Perhaps your character is impulsive and learns to be more reflective in a book (and then is consistent with that in following books). In another book, your same character might have the trait of fear of something that is overcome by dealing with an obstacle in the book.

Dissatisfying Arc shows a devolution of a character, usually the villain, but not always. Think of the Anti-Hero Walter White in “Breaking Bad.” Good man goes bad. At the same time Walter is devolving, loser Jesse is evolving. Very interesting character arcs.

Every Character Needs a Flaw is also obvious. Lack of trust can lead a character down wrong paths and into greater difficulties. Trusting everyone can also lead the character astray. Find a trait for your character that can be tied to the main conflict of the book.

Write It Out means planning the character arc for the series is as important as plot planning. Know the character and develop flaws and consistent traits that you can play off.

See how focusing on one of these keys in each book can allow a different character arc within the series?

Another way to envision the character arc in a series is described by Veronica Sicoe.

She describes three types of character arcs: The Change Arc, The Growth Arc, and the Shift Arc. The Change Arc is analogous to the Hero’s Journey that is the most commonly employed character arc.

The Growth Arc has your character being a new improved version of who heesh has always been; essentially the same, but better. The Shift Arc is a variant of the Growth Arc. In the Shift Arc, your character “changes his perspective, learns different skills, or gains a different role.” So, the character may not be “better” at the end, but heesh is definitely different.

Using Sicoe’s definitions, I can see how across a series, you could use these three to show a character arc without it having to be tied to a long arc.

I hope this gives you some ideas to chew on. I’m going to be addressing additional aspects of developing character arcs in a few follow-up posts. What do you struggle with in developing your character arcs?  Come back and join the conversation.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Best Laid Plans

I prepped for National Novel Writing Month. I knew my characters, plot points, twists and turns (though more revealed themselves as I wrote), the beginning/middle/end. In short, NaNoWriMo—bring it on! 50K words in 30 Days? Pshaw! I’m “winning” again this year.


I didn’t anticipate my own life’s plot points and twists and turns. The major plot point that is going to reenergize my professional writing.

I’ve talked about needing to sever my contracts with a former publisher. Then the search for a new home. Well, it happened. On November 2nd I contacted a publisher, and on November 3rd I was offered a contract. I signed the contract on the 7th and was off to the races.

My NaNo word count suffered. I blew through my banked words and instead racked up deficits because my focus was re-directed. I needed to spend my NaNo hours working on editing/revising a manuscript that can go through the production process.

Hard as it was to admit, I couldn’t accomplish the NaNo goal AND work on edits on a short time line. But, after talking to others and myself, I realized my priority has to be my career.

Getting the first book in my culinary series out is definitely more important than getting 50K done on book five this month. If the other books in the series are queued up, it will be a loooong time before the publisher is ready to see Tequila Mockingbird in the queue. I have time to finish that book. In fact, that might be next November’s project, to finish what I started this year.

So, it’s not New Year’s, but here is my resolution:
Turn in the best possible version I can of Pastabilities by the end of the month, and spend my NaNo-dedicated time to this project.

If I finish sooner than I think I will, I’ll get back to NaNoWriMo and Tequila Mockingbird gladly. But, if the past is prologue, ain’t gonna happen.

If interesting to you, please share. Thanks.

Facebook: What happens to a big goal project like NaNoWriMo when “life happens”? Sharon Arthur Moore shares what is going on with TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD and PASTABLILITIES. http://bit.ly/2AVbfl4

Twitter: What happens to a big goal project like NaNoWriMo when “life happens”? @Good2Tweat shares her new resolution for PASTABILITIES and TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD. http://bit.ly/2AVbfl4

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Goals, Deficits, Plans

If you read my post yesterday on “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” about getting a new publisher for my culinary mystery book, you know how excited I am about signing with the small press, Red Adept Publishing and owner/publisher Lynn McNamee. The woman is a dynamo, filled with marketing and promotion ideas for her quality booklist. The attention given to each novel signals how important her authors and their work is to her company. So I’ve been caught up in the fervor of what I need to do to be successful in this company, too.

I have been so distracted with gearing up for my new publisher that I have been neglectful of National Novel Writing Month for the last week and a half. The result is that I am currently 3900 words below the target words for this date. The target is predicated on finishing the 50K word goal on November 30th. Right now, the stats tracker on the NaNoWriMo site say that at 1667 words a day, that won’t happen. I’ll be into the first week of December to hit 50K words.

What does that really mean? What are my options?

I could toss the event this year, call it a month, and get to what is bright and shiny right now: prepping to be successful with my new publisher. After all, I have books 2-4 ready to work on putting into the pipeline. There’s no immediacy for book four. I could even finish writing it next NaNoWriMo cycle and still be ahead of the game.

I could settle into the 1667 daily goal and finish in early December. Just do the minimum (a bit more than 6½ pages a day) so I can spend time on other writing aspects. With this option, I would have this book banked and ready to work on when it comes up in the queue.

Or, I could grit my teeth, put aside future pieces related to getting ready for the launch of my culinary mystery book (about 9 months from now), and focus on getting Tequila Mockingbird off my plate. To finish by November 30th, that means writing 1911 words each remaining day, almost 8 pages a day, every day. Or, if I wrote 8-10 pages daily (about 2000-2500 words), I would be ahead of the game with a cushion for low volume days while I travel this month.

Which would you choose and why? I know what my plan is. Can you guess?

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Keeping the Pace

Originally published on "Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time" on November 6, 2017, and updated for today's posting.
On another of my blogs, I wrote about PlotOber and planning the fifth in my culinary mystery series so the writing of it in November for National Novel Writing Month will go more smoothly.

Well, I’m into November, one-fifth of the way through today, and by the end of the day I need to have logged a minimum of 10, 002 words to be on track to finish November 30th with 50,000 words.

I’ll make it. Last night I recorded a word total of 8356, slightly over the 8335 that I needed. Pretty darn good, with weeklong company, if you ask me.

I started strong, as I always do. That story has been percolating for months and I focused the thoughts by using two magic elements: my Plotober massive planning elements and by brainstorming with my two critique groups. My crit partners have AMAZING minds! Have I said how lucky I am to have them part of my writer’s life?

Here’s a peek at my time tracker to-date. The far right column is  the minimum total number of words I need to have written to keep on track for NaNoWriMo. I got a strong start, “banking” words, so to speak for when I couldn’t write much.

Note, for example in the second column, that I had three days when I couldn’t make my minimum 1667 words for those days. Company. You gotta love ‘em, but there is a toll. My cushion of banked words let me enjoy my time with her.

Falling behind is inevitable, if my past years are predictive. But it is not fatal. I will just need to write more words on other days to catch up. She leaves today, so this afternoon maybe I can bank some more for the other days I’ll not write much if anything.

Have I mentioned that we are traveling for Thanksgiving this year? Again.

Each year I have about ten days of limited productivity due to company and travel. So I just have to write harder on those days that aren’t committed to fun, food, and family. I’ve got this! 

2017 NaNoWriMo Time Tracker
Book 5 “Dinner is Served”

Daily Words/Pages Total
Running Total
Minimum Running Total
Nov. 1
Nov. 2
Nov. 3
Nov. 4
Nov. 5
Nov. 6
Nov. 7


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The NaNoWriMo Merry-Go-Round is about to Open

This post was originally published yesterday on “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” as will others to be cross-listed this month.

Some call it NaNovember. Some call it #$*&!^%. Or perhaps they use the more popular NaNoWriMo.

No matter what label (epithet?) you use, National Novel Writing Month is a time to remember. And dread. And anticipate. And gleefully romp around in.

Re this blog, likely, as November progresses, I will not have long posts, just short ones and updates on progress once NaNo begins on November 1st.

I will dual post some days on “Write Away” (my writing issues blog) since the posts will be about my new culinary mystery and the writing process. Hey, that way you only have to read one blog and get credit for two this month!

I rarely struggled with planning my culinary mysteries in the past, but this one was difficult for me. I had trouble imagining, at first, my 10 key events (and ended up with 11 weak ones), and other elements that I use when planning my mysteries. Why is that, I asked myself as the deadline approached and I didn’t have a single scene card done?

I was scared.

What if I was dried up with no more stories to tell and only clever titles to toss out? What if I had a great premise and concept but not enough stuffing to prop up the saggy, soggy middle.

Where’s the tension? What are the characters’ motivations? Omigosh, “stuffingf” like that was missing. Big problem when you’re writing a mystery.

Enter a couple of brainstorm sessions with fab crit partner Sandy Bremser, and voila. I broke through the fear. We identified the major flaw (there are numerous big other ones we found, too) and brainstormed fixes. After the first session, I generated 6 scene cards. I got in another 10 after the second session. I am nearly at the halfway point (I usually create ~40 scene cards).

Now I know how the novel starts and how it ends, and I moved what I thought was a key scene in the middle to earlier so I could have a scene there that has much more tension. I created a bad guy, because, well, I didn’t have one before. Wow, Sandy! Thanks so much.

So still behinder than I’ve ever been at this point in my NaNovember PlotOber planning sessions, but I can do this. I will have those scene cards done before Wednesday morning. And, for the kind of writer I am, that is a huge relief.
Bring it!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

How to Become a Successful Writer

Now, I suppose I need to define “successful”, right? Surprisingly, to many of you who clicked on this title, I am not talking about commercial success. Although, that may well follow once you are “successful” as delineated in this post.

To explain what successful writing means to me, let me refer you to a recent post I had on another of my blogs. In “Happiness is . . .”  I shared a Gandhi quote that is on a necklace I frequently wear. The quote is: “Happiness is when what you think and what you say and what you do are in harmony.” Alignment of these three elements means you are not conflicted. Conflict is the opposite of harmony.

That’s the point with writing success as well. Writing success is when what you think and what you say and what you do align.

I’ve been in many writing groups over the last few decades. The usual panoply typically presents itself. The groups are peopled by those who are hobby writers and those who are professional writers.

Hobby writers are more diverse than alike, whereas, professional writers tend to share more commonalities with one another than hobby writers share among themselves.

Just to be clear, hobby writers are fine. I am not dissing them or rejecting their right to be the kind of writers they are. Their goals differ from mine, but they are just as valid for them as mine are for me.

The difference isn’t publication. I know hobby writers who publish in small town papers, and I know professional writers who haven’t yet put out that first book. The difference runs deeper than publication.

The problem occurs when hobby writers fool themselves into thinking they are professional writers. They want to be professional writers, they say. They tell themselves and others they are professional writers. They even demonstrate some of the traits of professional writers. But they aren’t, and they are just fooling themselves, not the rest of us.

Does that sound harsh? I don’t mean it to be, but I value honesty in myself and in others. I am a professional writer, and I act like one.

A professional writer has S.M.A.R.T. writing goals. The goals are specific and measureable, attainable and realistic with a timeline for accomplishment and steps along the way. Hobby writers just want to write and appreciate positive feedback from writing group members that don’t require them to put out much effort beyond writing.

A professional writer knows about the business end of writing (record keeping, tax implications, and marketing/promotion) and puts pieces in place, like blogs or twitter accounts as part of their plan. They may not like the business end of it, but they inform themselves and gear up for when they need to enact elements. Hobby writers say they don’t want a “platform.”

A professional writer knows other writers beyond the writing group. Perhaps the person joins affinity groups on Facebook and/or follows particular blogs and interacts with other writers there. Likely they’ve joined local writing groups for professional development. Hobby writers stick to their crit group.

A professional writer views writing as shis job and acts accordingly. That means reading in the field and attending training sessions at a conference of from local writing groups. Perhaps they attend national writing conferences. The professional writer has collected a library of books about the craft of writing. Hobby writers don’t see a need to spend money on materials, registrations, or travel.

A professional writer claims the identity of writer and can explain to others what that means. A hobby writer simply claims the identity. As they say in the South, they are all hat and no cattle. They can’t talk about what it means to be a professional writer because they don’t know what that means and they can’t talk about the steps required to be a professional writer.

A professional writer, most importantly, writes. Must write. Finds time to write. Doesn’t let other things interfere with regular writing (mostly). Having a writing routine means producing more word count than hobby writers if only because professional writers treat writing as a job, not a hobby to be fit in when there’s time. Professional writers show up, consistently, ready to accomplish their work.

Again, hobby writing is fine. But don’t fool yourself. Be honest. And enjoy your hobby writing and sharing of it. Professional writing is no better (or worse) than hobby writing. But knowing for sure which you are, and thinking, acting, and doing the things that make you a hobby writer or professional writer, will ensure that alignment that leads to success. And success as a consistent professional writer will help you attain those S.M.A.R.T. goals.

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Facebook: Are you a professional writer or a hobby writer? What’s the difference? Does it matter? Only if you want to be a professional writer. http://bit.ly/2yLUBFp

Twitter: #Writers are either hobby writers or professional writers. Which are you? @Good2Tweat offers some thoughts http://bit.ly/2yLUBFp