The different between amateur and professional writers

Art is a discipline. It is a skill. It is a craft. It is something which you must work at regularly, and struggle through the challenges by overcoming one word at a time. Professional writers know this. Amateurs, however, will often say they “write when the muse visits” them.


You see, the writers we most admire: journalists — who pen words beautifully — are required to write weekly, on a daily basis. When the muse visits, they write. And when the muse has veered to a foreign, hidden place they write.

We see authors publish books yearly. Screenwriters who create new plays often. Professional writing is not something we claim on a sometime basis. It is a full-time job of knowing even when you do not feel inspired you are still required to write.

When you do not feel inspired you are still required to write.

Stick to a writing schedule

View your time writing as a first date where it’d be horrible to miss, or show up late. I often tell those I coach to set an appointment on their calendar to sit down and write. Once set, treat it as a meeting at work you cannot miss. On Monday morning at 6 am, or Wednesday at 7:30 pm you must show up. No excuses.

(If you want to work full-time as a writer, why not start practicing now?)

Discipline gets things done

When I was writing my book, God in Your Morning, I woke up an hour earlier every morning to write. Within that hour sometimes I was only able to write a paragraph. Other times, I wrote pages upon pages. There were days I stared at a blank screen for 45 minutes and wished I had stayed in bed.

Regardless of how each writing session went, faithfully I woke up early every day to make my writing appointment. The benefits? I completed my book within six months.

My writing friends and those who knew of my book project were impressed with how quickly it took me. The funny thing is I did not do anything impressive in finishing. I simply had discipline, and discipline — applied in large or small amounts — always gets the job done.

Discipline always gets the job done.

Professionals know writing is messy

Putting beautiful words together is ugly. That almost sounds like a funky kind of oxymoron, but it is the truth. I cannot tell you how many rewrites I have seen great news articles undergo. Red ink and cross-outs decorate a writer’s finest work.

I tend to see many beginning writers grow frustrated because they have not gotten it right from the start. It does not read as beautifully as the idea pictured in their head. The commas are out of place. They have not found the correct adverb, adjective, and wonder if that paragraph should be kept.

This is all understandable. I have my frustrations also. We all do. However, professional writers know the most important part of the first draft is getting the idea out of their head and onto the blank page. Once that is done, the first milestone has been crossed.

So keep writing, even when it does not sound beautiful. Even when it means crawling out of bed when you’d prefer to be sleeping, or relaxing with a movie on. Then once you are done, go back and reread it. Make it something remarkable (like a professional).


How to Prepare You (and Your Book) to be Edited

Congratulations. You have written your manuscript (or article) and have found an editor. This is an exciting process as you become closer to having your work in the hands of readers. However, let us keep first things first. Here’s a quick list of how to prepare for this next stage in your writing journey.

pexels-photo (1).jpg

Make sure you’ve proofread your writing at least once

Now before you tell me I am contradicting myself, because I warned against being your own editor, hear me out. Before sending your rough draft to any editor make sure you have read it at least once thoroughly and checked for errors. While we can never catch all the mistakes in our writing, there are typos we can correct on our own.

This will show your editor you care about your work more when she (or he) does not have to correct simple errors they know you could have caught on your own. (And yes, we always know if you have proofread or not.)

Secondly, it may save you money. If you are paying your editor by the hour, not having them correct mistakes you could have done yourself saves them time in editing — which for you — means more money in your wallet.

Let your editor be your editor

You hired the person to edit your work. Allow them to do their job. A good editor will not only correct your punctuation and grammar, but suggest to you how to make your manuscript read better. She may move around sentences, or take out a complete paragraph that does not add to your piece. He may even help you rework your lede, or recommend you change it altogether.

Remember, your editor is here to make your work read its best. While it is your writing, your editor cares just as much about your piece as you do. It’s also a reflection of them and they are here to help you. It can be tough seeing all the red cross-outs. You may have been attached to a certain line or word in a sentence. However, if it does not make sense to your editor chances are it won’t make sense to your readers. Be flexible during the editorial process and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the end result.

Your editor is not your co-author

While your editor will rewrite a sentence and correct what is wrong or missing, he is not responsible for rewriting chapters, or even portions of chapters of your book. An editor is here to correct your writing, not be the author of it.

Don’t get upset when your editor returns your manuscript with “homework” for you to do. It is their responsibility to correct what is wrong, but it is your obligation to make the changes necessary.

Editing is an art of patience

You did not write your manuscript in a day so be understanding that editing takes time. While you have provided your editor with the “bones” and they are only improving upon the foundation you have already laid, it still takes long hours do.

Have patience with your editor and do not become frustrated when they don’t have your work edited at a snap of a finger. However, if they take too long or lack in communication you may need to address your concerns accordingly.

You have the final say so

Regardless of what an editor may recommend you change or delete, your manuscript will always be yours. If you aren’t happy with a revision they have provided you do not have to keep it. While an editor usually knows what is best for your future publication, it will forever be a product of what you envisioned. Don’t be afraid to tell your editor, “thanks, but no thanks” if you truly desire to keep something the way it is. Yet, I do recommend first discussing this with your editor and perhaps the two of you can work together in producing what suits you two best.


Happy editing!


Why Even Good Writers Need Editors

You can be a writer and an editor. You just can’t be both for yourself.


It’s hard to catch your own mistakes. You know how your work is supposed to sound, read, and what emotions you want it to capture. So when you go to edit yourself you still have all these things in mind. You’re too attached to your work and aren’t able to look at it with a different set of eyes.

Who could use an editor?

Everyone: bloggers, journalists, students, authors — both those traditionally published and self-published — technical writers, and the like.

Newspapers and magazines have editors for their writers, and so do all major publishing houses.

Editors save you the embarrassment.

No one likes to make mistakes especially when there are a lot of people looking. If you’re seeking to get your manuscript into the hands of thousands, or even just a few hundreds of readers having an editor will benefit you. Your editor will catch all those grammar mistakes you didn’t realize you made because you were too focused on writing a great plot, and check for clarity to ensure your message is understood well. A good editor will suggest to you how you can strengthen a sentence by omitting a word, and even assist you in using all of your punctuation correctly.

The worse feeling an author can have is to finally have their book in front of readers and realize they made errors in their writing after its too late to fix them. I am sure your readers will appreciate having a writer who not only cares to tell a good story, but also takes time to ensure it’s delivered correctly.

I’ve read way too many reviews on from readers who have bought self-published books only to say the message was good, but the writer should have invested in a proofreader.

Personally, poor writing and a lack of editing will discourage me from further purchasing an author’s books. If a writer could not invest in their book to present it correctly, why should I invest in it and read through the errors?

With all of this in mind, I encourage you to have someone edit your work. It’ll help you become a better writer as you learn to correct your “writing slip-ups,” and gain respect from your future readers.

As a side note: if you are in need of an editor, or proofreader, please contact me via my contact tab. I am accepting submissions.



The boy I saw on the 2 train

I’m on the NYC subway taking the 2 train from downtown Brooklyn to Times Square. It’s a week from Christmas on a Friday night. The man sitting across from me appears to be half-drunk, although I know he isn’t.

42nd st

He is smiling and I see his speech is a direct result of his almost toothless mouth. Still, his words doesn’t always make sense. His mind isn’t altogether and I’m wondering how he got that way.

But my heart is breaking for the boy who’s sitting at the very end of the train cart with his hood over his head, slumped over.

“Hey, son!” Yells out the almost toothless man. “Take a picture of me and the tree.” The man speaks loudly, too loudly, saying he somehow got the tree and is trying to sell it. It’s a small, Christmas tree he seems to have gotten by ill-means. He asks if I’d like to buy it. I glance, half-acknowledge him and turn my head the other way.

“Hey, son!” He says again. “Come here.” The boy gets up from his seat and walks over to his father. He stumbles as the train turns. “Take a picture of me and this tree.” The son walks away. Annoyed, the father pulls out his cell phone and from the corner of my eye I see he’s taking a selfie. Now, he’s turning the phone around to show everyone saying, “You see this picture here?!” My head remains turned. Not because I’m apathetic, but for the dignity of his son.

“You see, my son is too much of a f****** coward to take the picture!” he yells.

My heart breaks. “Poor kid,” I whisper into my scarf.

“Now you made me miss the stop and we have to turn around to go back to 125th,” says the father.

“No we don’t.” The kid replies. He gets up and points to the subway map. “We didn’t pass it yet.”

The father, in his stupor-mind, isn’t convinced. He begins saying harsh words to his son. The boy walks away and looks outside the subway’s doors, using his hood to shield his face from those on the train.

I want to go grab the boy’s hand and take him with me. To hug him. Love him. Tell him it will be OK. I want to negate the father’s words by telling the child: You are loved. You are special. You have purpose. I want to help him escape from a life he didn’t sign up for. Free him from embarrassment.

My stop is next. We’re on 34th street headed to 42nd. And I feel sad. I want to help, but can’t. I have to leave the boy. My stop is here, and I’m getting of the train.

What happens in a room full of writers

The excitement is done and now I must sit down and write. 

This weekend I attended The Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City at The Roosevelt Hotel. The three day event was packed with sessions from publishing, to developing your craft, and even creative marketing strategies to sell your book.

Overall, it went very well:

The people

Nothing beats being in a room full of people who are equally, or perhaps even more, passionate about the same thing as you are. The energy that filled the room from an array of writers who were “newbies,” journalists, and even best-selling authors never gets old.

And as much as I have come to appreciate and love the blogging world and its bloggers, there’s no better massage to the brain than to be amongst writers who blog, and have an appreciation and respect for the craft of writing, rather than bloggers who simply — well, just blog.

The keynotes

The keynotes were all inspiring in their uniquely touching, yet sometimes funny way. Dani Shapiro, author of Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life and Devotion, shared how writing saved her life. She spoke on boldly writing about our lives saying, “We do not choose the stories that we tell. The stories choose us.” And that we should never be ashamed to share the muck in our lives because others can find healing in it.

The following day’s keynote was by Harlan Coben, a New York Times bestselling author. In a comical, yet relatable way he explained how being a best-selling author isn’t any more prestigious than being a “regular” writer. Cohen said, “Only bad writers think they’re good,” and he constantly noted even in being an accomplished writer, he still struggles with insecurities. “One moment I’ll write something and think it’s genius, just to read it again and realize it’s stupid,” he laughed. Yet, he urged us all to “face the blank page,” because “the only thing that makes you a writer is actually writing.” 

Kimberla Lawson Roby, another New York Times best-selling author, was the closing keynote. She shared her writing journey from her doubts to her successes in beginning as a self-published writer. Roby said she quit her job to pursue her passion, and her husband even volunteered to use money from his 401k to support her. She said, “It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 80 years old. It’s never too late to live out your passion.” And using the words her husband told her, “If it does not work then you move on to something else,” because it’d be ashame to one day inquire of ourselves, “‘If I had tried what could have happened?’” Roby noted her books have received praise, and criticism for its controversial and often labeled “scandalous” stories. However, she responded saying, “I always try to tell the truth in stories whether it’s good or bad.” And preceding a loud applause, she ended on one of several notes: “Every day before I write, I’m on my knees asking God what to say.” 

What do you think? What was your impression of the conference?




What Our Issues with Others Say About Us

You can tell a great deal about yourself by what annoys, frustrates, irritates, and upsets you about others.


For example…

Patience hasn’t been my forte lately. And oddly enough, I seem to be the most impatient with impatient people. (Go figure. I’m working on it though.)

The same is of people who are unfaithful in relationships. They struggle with accepting the idea that their partner is faithful, or become extremely upset when their mate is unfaithful towards them.

Gossipers have issues with gossipers; hypocrites are hypocritical of other hypocrites.  People who tend to lie and be argumentative don’t get along too well.


The frustration we experience toward others is a reflection of our own imperfect character.

Yet, we act differently towards others when we act out of our strengths.

For example…

Displaying compassion is one of my strengths. I hate to see anyone suffering, without, or struggling. When I encounter people who I can be compassionate towards I jump on the opportunity. I know we are all entitled to a bad day, we all have our struggles, and I find it easier to display grace and love to people in these situations.

However, how many people have said, “I’m struggling myself, and they expect me to help them?” The imperfection we have in our life reflects in how we act and react toward others.

Looking within

So the next time you catch yourself becoming frustrated with someone, before you lash out on them, or choose to become upset, examine yourself. We all have character blemishes. And perhaps the imperfection you’re so irritated with others about is one you need to develop yourself.