What Makes Up a Professional Writer’s Day?

PenI recently went to a Blogger Meetup that featured Scott James as a speaker. Scott has successfully transitioned from an outdoor guide to a professional writer. He did it by first cultivating a discipline of blogging every morning to build a portfolio and second by building relationships with key clients that he nurtured by keeping in close touch with. These are great tips for anyone wanting to be a writer and just starting out.

I went to this meetup to explore whether becoming a professional writer was an avenue I wanted to pursue. Scott gave a great presentation that gave me a glimpse of what a writer’s life is like. A bonus was the interaction with the audience, including a lively discussion of rates and the impact of overseas outsourcing on them.

Scott opened his talk with the comment that he was surprised to discover that the actual act of writing only takes up a small percentage (20%) of his day. But it’s not like he’s slacking off when he is not writing. The other activities support the writing, so when he does write he is drawing from ideas already formed and knowledge already researched.

Here is the breakdown of where he spends his time. I’ve divided the activities into three areas: Absorbing, Processing and Writing.

Absorbing

  • 30% – Reading: Building a knowledge base, understanding what others are saying about a given topic
  • 30% – Listening: For example asking questions at networking events and listening to the answers

Processing

  • 10% – Walking or another activity that appears to have nothing to do with writing at all, but actually allows the brain to creatively support the writing.
  • 10% – Meetings with clients

Writing

  • 20% – Writing

Scott’s breakdown rang true for me. My experience of writing this blog is that when I actually sit down to write a post I’m not doing it from a blank slate. Here’s how it works: Usually I have several ideas to draw from, right I have about six on my list. The topic ideas come from various places: from my experiences with the technical aspects of this blog or from my work as an SEO consultant; but also from offline and online conversations centered around a question I think I can answer. The Pagemodo review and Panda posts are examples of posts I wrote that came from conversations with people. Then comes the research. Sometimes I can just write from experience, but with many of my posts I need to try things out so that I have tangible experiences to report to make the post more valuable. All of that takes more time than just writing the post itself.

About the Author Kathy Alice

Kathy Alice Brown is a traffic and conversion expert specializing in SEO, Copywriting and Facebook Ad Campaigns. In her spare time she loves to get outside.

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1 comment
zainahasna says June 17, 2011

Good information and platforms of “How to be” a good writer. Thanks for this self-learning steps to make a blog or even a novel.

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