Are You An Amateur Writer? Congratulations!

Now that I’m on what is ostensibly my fourth career — freelance writing — I have to come up with an answer to the oft-asked, “What do you do?” I’d like to say, “I’m a writer,” but I’ve noticed when I give that answer people often follow up by asking if I’m a “professional” writer. We all know what they really want to know: Do I make any money.

If you’re a professional, you make money, one would hope enough money to pay bills. If you’re not a professional, you’re an amateur, and that seems to be a lesser existence because you don’t make money and surely not enough to pay the bills. We consider “amateurs” people who are inept, not very good at their craft.  But those who use the term in a derogatory are just uninformed. Turns out  there is true beauty in being amateur writers.

It’s all about something many writers enjoy learning — etymology, or word origins. The word amateur comes from the Latin word amare, to love. It describes someone who participates in an activity for the pure joy of loving it. An amateur writer simply revels in the written word. We pursue passion for passion’s sake, not for something as pedestrian as earning a living!

The line is often blurred with indie authors because many of us write books and, spoiler alert — we actually sell some! Sometimes even enough to pay back our investment in editing, book covers, illustrations, etc. But still it’s not often enough money to consider ourselves professionals so perhaps we contribute to the professional vs. amateur misconceptions.

So the next time someone asks me what I do, I will respond, passionately, “I am amateur writer; you may now begin envying me.”

How about you, fellow amateur writers? What do you say when asked,”What do you do?” #amateurwritersunite

Photo via VisualHunt

Photo via VisualHunt

8 Responses to “Are You An Amateur Writer? Congratulations!

  • “I am a writer” does it for me. The question that usually follows is “What do you write?” Amateur or professional doesn’t often enter into the conversation. Great topic, Deborah!

    • Thanks. I just love the origin of amateur. Once I learned it, I realized how obvious it had been all along but who knew? I think the people who ask about making money are usually those who want to write for a living but have yet to figure out how.

  • Love this! I will be proud to call myself amateur because I do have that love. Thank you!

  • Thanks for this, Debby ~ I’ve learned something useful today. In the future I’ll be happy to describe myself as an amateur writer!

  • I love the analogy of ‘amateur’ here Deb, but like you touched on, many aren’t aware of the true meaning of that word and I couldn’t bring myself as a full-time writer and published author to call myself amateur; I just can’t lol.
    Nobody has asked me that. If asked what I do, I say I’m a writer. Then asked, ‘What do you write’, I tell them about the topics I write about and about my books. I don’t believe I owe anyone any explanation of whether or not my earnings are making me a living or not. 🙂

    • You are a professional, Debby, in every sense of the word! My post is only somewhat tongue in cheek. I found the etymology of amateur fascinating and it matched the fact that so many writers love what they do, despite not exactly being able to pay the bills with it. As a result many people don’t say, “I’m a writer” because they don’t think that’s the answer to “What do you do?” just because they don’t earn a living doing it. But you’re right, we don’t owe explanations!

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