I have been a professional writer, meaning I get paid for what I write, for going on two decades now. I’ve been making a full-time living at it for six years now.


I started with five goals as a writer:

1) Write regularly.

2) Publish what I write.

3) Get paid for what I write.

4) Make a living writing.

5) Make a lot of money writing.


I like to say I’m on stage four. However each stage is an order of magnitude more difficult than the last, so the jump from four to five…


When I started getting paid for writing advertorials for the English-language press in Poland, I looked on it as paid practice.


When I became a working journalist it imposed a certain kind of structure on my writing: more terse than my usual wont, and organized in the “inverted pyramid” style. It’s not quite how I like to do essays, and I think of myself as an essayist above all, but it’s great discipline.


Opinion columns are great practice too. You have to make your point within a certain word limit, which really makes you think about how to organize your thoughts and what is the minimum necessary to leave in to support your point.


I’ve also written quite a few movie/TV reviews and that is a whole lot of fun.


Now I’ve taken off six months from work to write a book, maybe two short books, and it’s a whole different ball game.


I’ve actually written two books already. One was a book of vocabulary-building essays for English students and teachers who are non-native speakers.


The other was a book on linguistic humor for the same audience. Meaning jokes that cannot be translated because they use a feature of the language, lexical or phonetic, for humorous effect: puns, play on words, spoonerisms, accent and dialect jokes, etc.


Now I’m working on a book with some of my thoughts on politics, “The Progressive Mind and Other Essays.”


Like my other books it’s partly a collection of essays, revised and expanded, and partly new material written to extend my original insight and bring it all together.


A lot of the work so far has been just copying and pasting the essays, writing transitions and editing. And boy has there been a lot of editing!


I have had to ruthlessly prune phrases down to single words or eliminate them entirely. I constantly ask myself, “Does this support the point or did you just include that because you thought it was interesting?”


And I have to organize thoughts I’ve had that previously just rumbled around in my brain.


It’s a challenge for sure, and win, lose, or draw it’ll make a better writer out of me.


But what’s really tough is the self-doubt and failure of nerve that threatens to overwhelm sometimes.


That nagging little voice that asks, “Is this really good? Is anybody ever going to find this insight as fascinating as you do? Have you got it in you to finish this?”


I’m discovering that writing can be an act of courage as much as discipline.

I have been a professional writer, meaning I get paid for what I write, for going on two decades now. I’ve been making a full-time living at it for six years now.

I started with five goals as a writer:
1) Write regularly.
2) Publish what I write.
3) Get paid for what I write.
4) Make a living writing.
5) Make a lot of money writing.

I like to say I’m on stage four. However each stage is an order of magnitude more difficult than the last, so the jump from four to five…

When I started getting paid for writing advertorials for the English-language press in Poland, I looked on it as paid practice.

When I became a working journalist it imposed a certain kind of structure on my writing: more terse than my usual wont, and organized in the “inverted pyramid” style. It’s not quite how I like to do essays, and I think of myself as an essayist above all, but it’s great discipline.

Opinion columns are great practice too. You have to make your point within a certain word limit, which really makes you think about how to organize your thoughts and what is the minimum necessary to leave in to support your point.

I’ve also written quite a few movie/TV reviews and that is a whole lot of fun.

Now I’ve taken off six months from work to write a book, maybe two short books, and it’s a whole different ball game.

I’ve actually written two books already. One was a book of vocabulary-building essays for English students and teachers who are non-native speakers.

The other was a book on linguistic humor for the same audience. Meaning jokes that cannot be translated because they use a feature of the language, lexical or phonetic, for humorous effect: puns, play on words, spoonerisms, accent and dialect jokes, etc.

Now I’m working on a book with some of my thoughts on politics, “The Progressive Mind and Other Essays.”

Like my other books it’s partly a collection of essays, revised and expanded, and partly new material written to extend my original insight and bring it all together.

A lot of the work so far has been just copying and pasting the essays, writing transitions and editing. And boy has there been a lot of editing!

I have had to ruthlessly prune phrases down to single words or eliminate them entirely. I constantly ask myself, “Does this support the point or did you just include that because you thought it was interesting?”

And I have to organize thoughts I’ve had that previously just rumbled around in my brain.

It’s a challenge for sure, and win, lose, or draw it’ll make a better writer out of me.

But what’s really tough is the self-doubt and failure of nerve that threatens to overwhelm sometimes.

That nagging little voice that asks, “Is this really good? Is anybody ever going to find this insight as fascinating as you do? Have you got it in you to finish this?”

I’m discovering that writing can be an act of courage as much as discipline.