There are reasons that people believe the common misconception about writers not really “work” for a living. Part of it is because people learned to “write” in grade school, they think they are technically writers. Then there’s the other half of it — the would-be writer who never puts a single word down on paper because he or she is waiting for inspiration to strike.
Both of these things may be, on some level true, but they are not indicative of real writers.
To be a real, working writer, you must be professional. That means you act professionally when dealing with others (no emojis when pitching an editor), you are committed to your craft and you are setting job goals just as you would in any other field.
A writer’s goals will vary depending on where you are in your career. If you are just starting out and want to write novels you may set a goal of writing 3 pages a day for yourself. On the other hand, if you have been toiling away at a very small community paper your goal may be to pitch a large feature to a magazine with a larger circulation.
Successful businesspeople take risks and as a professional writer looking to be successful you need to put into practice the same dedication and devotion to your work as other do to theirs. No one became a doctor simply because they held a stethoscope in their hands and no one becomes a writer simply because they pick up a pen or wrote an essay in high school.
Exercise: Look back at a few correspondents you have had with editors. Check the language and tone. Do you come across as a professional? When you are working are you setting a schedule and goals for yourself? Are you growing as a writer? All of these things are hallmarks of a professional writer.