Thursday, October 11, 2012

Professional Is as Professional Does

The topic of being professional is one that I return to again and again. Not because I'm some great sage able to impart my wisdom to writers far and wide, but because in writing about it, I continue to refine my own thoughts about what it means to be professional.

In my prior life as a Physical Therapist, being professional meant holding to ethical practice, advocating for patients and their goals, contributing as a member of a health care team, and seeking out opportunities for assessment and continued learning.

For over 20 years, I practiced as a professional PT, learning and growing as a clinician, performing my job to the best of my abilities.

When I made my career shift from clinician to writer, many aspects of my life changed. Certainly, my commute got easier, if you don't count the traffic jam of two dogs trying to trip me up on my walk across the living room. Particularly hazardous when holding coffee! I can go to work these days in sweats or even PJ's. Hooray for writers working at home without dress codes! Everyday is casual Friday!

But my commute and my standards of dress are not what create professionalism.

Much of that, in my job as a writer, is my work ethic.

When I had a schedule of patients and meetings in my therapy work, I never had to find the motivation to get up and do the work. The work, in no small part, demanded I do it. If I don't sit down to write for a day, there are no irate characters phoning me about missed appointments. (Wow--maybe that's a new marketing opportunity! LOL) Because my deadlines are self-imposed, the only one keeping me honest is me.

There is no external licensing agency mandating continuing education credits. If I want to improve in my craft, I must seek out those opportunities on my own as well.

In my job as a writer, I also have no colleagues physically present in my office. One of the aspects of my work as a clinician that I loved was the opportunity to work collaboratively with other health professionals. Fortunately, the internet has provided a way to easily network and connect with other writers.

Perhaps the biggest difference between my work as a clinician and my work as a writer, is that being a Physical Therapist earned me a living. At this point, my fiction does not. However, that doesn't mean I don't consider my writing to be my profession. And I have no doubt that given work, time, and a professional attitude, it will.

Today’s post was inspired by the topic “What ‘professional writer’ means to me”– October’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. 


  1. You my dear may write about being a professional writer all you want, for I agree with you, that you certainly are one! Having had the pleasure of witnessing your dedication to your craft first hand during my stays with you and your delightful tribe, I am frankly in AWE of your disciplined nature. There is no doubt in my mind that your writing career will be as successful as your previous life as a Physical Therapist.

    1. Thanks, sweetie! With friends like you, I can't miss. Seriously--I am truly blessed.