5 Ways to Go From Hobby Writer to Pro

If you've been a hobby writer for a while now (and I define "hobby writer" as a writer who hasn't made any money from her writing), and you think it's time to step up and go pro, here are five things you can do to begin the transition.
04/12/2016 10:10 am ET Updated Apr 13, 2017

If you've been writing for any amount of time, at some point a question is going to come up for you: do I want to go pro?

It's an important question to ask, and, most especially, to answer. Because as you go deeper into a hobby, you'll start to think about the money you've spent and wonder if it's time to start making money from it (instead of just spending money on it).

If you've been a hobby writer for a while now (and I define "hobby writer" as a writer who hasn't made any money from her writing), and you think it's time to step up and go pro, here are five things you can do to begin the transition:

1. Work On Your Mindset

Wait, what? Did I just say "work on your mindset"?

Yep.

Because mindset is everything. Especially when you want to do something at a professional level.

The professional level requires a different mindset than the hobby level. In the hobby level, it's OK to be half-committed or to not care if you only do your writing once a week or once a month.

The pro level requires you to go all in. To be fully committed to showing up every day and doing the work. And this all begins in your mind.

When you create a success mindset, you'll be in a better place to take the actions needed to go pro.

2. Dig Up Old Beliefs That No Longer Serve You

Yes, going pro requires a lot of internal work. Because that's where 100 percent of your limitations are going to come from.

And when you're doing something on a pro level, you can't have limitations. You have to give yourself permission to play full out and be all in.

Sit down and make a list of all the limiting beliefs or old, negative beliefs you currently have that will not serve you as you move to the pro level.

For example, maybe you have an old belief that says, "I'm not good enough." As a hobbyist that's fine because your livelihood doesn't depend on you showing up to the page. But as a pro writer, "I'm not good enough" is a career killer.

You have to flip that belief on its head and change it to something that supports where you want to go with your writing. Try new beliefs, like: "I am good enough" or "I can do this." Simple, yet powerful.

Go through your list and flip every single old belief until you have a new, empowering belief in its place.

A mentor of mine, bestselling author, Kat Loterzo, says, "You are defined by what you believe, and how you act accordingly." That line says everything.

When it comes to being a pro writer, what you believe will define the actions you take (or don't take). Most hobbyists don't take enough (or the right) actions because they have limiting beliefs that are holding them back.

3. Master Your Craft

Whatever type of writing you want to do, you have to master it. And I'd add that it's not really possible to master writing because there's always something new to learn.

But if you want to be a pro novelist, for example, you have to master the craft of writing novels. And if you want to be a paid freelance writer, you have to master the craft of writing articles and pitching editors. And if you want to be a professional poet, you have to master the craft of writing poetry.

It's as simple as that.

Hobbyists ignore craft a lot of the time, thinking that it's OK to do whatever they want because they're not trying to make money from it. Pro writers can't think this way. Pro writers have to be masters of their craft, because that's how you'll make money from it.

4. Go All the Way

Most hobbyist writers are hobbyists for one main reason: they never finish anything.

They might write a ton of short stories or several novel drafts, but they never actually go all the way to the pro stage. They avoid putting the writing out there, they don't invest in the editor who will help them polish the writing and ready it for publication. They don't hit the "publish" button.

That's not a problem for a hobbyist, but as a pro writer, you have to finish. There's no way around it.

You have to go all the way and actually publish something. Your writing needs to be available for purchase.

Otherwise you'll never be able to call yourself a pro.

Pros make money from their writing. Period.

So if you haven't gone all the way and actually finished a writing project and put it out into the world, now's the time.

5. Surround Yourself With Likeminded Pro Writers

This is super important. If you want to be a successful pro writer, you have to surround yourself with other people who already are pro writers or who are committed to being pro writers.

Hobbyists can get away with being part of writer's groups where no one has gone pro and everyone still has excuses and limited beliefs getting in the way. But pro writers can't.

You assimilate to the people you spend the most time with. And if you want to go pro, you need to spend more time with pro writers and committed, soon-to-be pro writers and less time with hobbyists ('cause like attracts like).

Now before anyone freaks out, let me just say this: there is nothing wrong with not wanting to make money from your writing. There's nothing wrong with being a hobbyist writer forever.

It's all about what you want for your life and your writing. If you don't care about being a pro or making money, that's cool. Just keep writing.

But if being a pro writer is a dream that lives inside you, there's no better time than the present to unleash it.

What actions can you take right now to start moving toward being a pro writer?