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  • Writer's pictureElaine Marie Carnegie

Tips For Someone Wanting to be A Professional Writer by P.A. O’Neil

Hmmn, words of advice for those wanting to be professional writers?

I have always been interested in telling stories, entertaining, creating other worlds, and daydreaming. That covers just about everyone who wants to be a writer as a foundation, even if you’re writing non-fiction, you’re telling a story from your mind to another. You must want to share your thoughts, and imagination—it’s as important as breathing.

You don’t have to begin at a young age, nor is it too late to begin at an advanced age either. Sometimes, life gets in the way of fulfilling your creative aspirations (for me it was a forty-year interlude). Time is one of the things which makes this journey personal.

Do you need an education to support your writing career? Yes and no, though I have a degree, it’s not in English nor Literature. You do need to be willing to educate yourself on grammar, style, POV, sentence structure, etc., the skeletal structure of any good writing.

Read the works of others, discover what you like and don’t, understand how their writing is shared or portrayed through their work. Some of these are considered classics, others innovative. Pick your style (your voice) in your writing, but don’t be afraid to branch out and try other styles—experiment with POV and genre (to name a few).

Be willing to have your work reviewed by others. This happens every time someone reads your work, whether by friend, professional editor, or audience. If you are not willing to hear criticism (constructive or otherwise) as well as praise, then don’t aim to become a professional.

It’s all right to keep the work for your eyes alone but learn to develop a tough hide when your story is rejected. I think of them as letters of declination, as the publisher chose not to use my story at that time. It’s a business, think this way will save yourself some heartache. Yes, I have had stinging rejection and it affected me, but given time my ego healed, and I moved on becoming a stronger and more successful writer.

Who am I to be giving advice on becoming a professional writer? I am a recently declared senior citizen who decided to give voice to the story buzzing around in my head. After writing a novel (yet unpublished) I reached out to other writers for direction about what to do with my newfound life’s fulfillment. Their advice set me on the road to becoming a short story writer.

Since then, my work has been featured in thirty-five publications, but my son said I wasn’t yet a professional until I was paid for my work. After three years, I am happy to announce I have received compensation, not enough to live on but enough to buy a cup of coffee and pastry at Starbucks—maybe.


P.A. O’Neil has been writing professionally for just over three years. In that time, her stories have been featured in multiple anthologies (many of them international best-sellers), as well as on-line journals and magazines from several continents. She and her husband reside in Olympia, Washington, with her adult children living nearby.

Links to stories which have been published online, go to her Publication Resume in the Notes section of her FB page, for links to books which feature her stories, look under the Photo section.

Follow her career on the Facebook author page: P.A. O’Neil, Storyteller, or visit her Amazon author page: P.A. O’Neil.

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