Writers new to working on the professional stage may not know that most of “writing” at a company isn’t actually writing. It’s everything else: the processes and management behind professional writing.


Navigating those processes is a key difference maker between writing as your hobby and writing as your job. From my experience, a newer professional writer should focus on building a few skills that will serve them well.

Get comfy with boring topics

You will write a lot on the job. Unfortunately, it won’t always be exciting. When you write as a hobby, you get to choose your topics. Not so when directives come from your clients and your bosses.


It’s not that you won’t care about your company — you can enjoy the company you’re writing for, and you might enjoy much of what you write. But there will be times you have to write boring content.

This is where building the practice of writing matters. It’s easy to procrastinate on writing for boring topics, but those are often the most important ones for your clients. Being comfortable with the tactical parts of writing — narrative flow, spelling and grammar, idea generation — makes this step easier. Otherwise, you can get caught in the spiral of Writing Overwhelm and fall behind quickly. Good professional writers can show up every day and get to work, even if it’s not super interesting.

Hone your negotiation skills

When you work with teams, bosses, and clients, you’ll find everyone has an opinion on what you produce. Many newer writers get overwhelmed by all this feedback, or they take it too personally and let it affect their performance.


The professional writer moonlights as an expert negotiator. But they’re not talking at the deal table; they’re editing in Google Docs. They have to manage the many voices who want a say in the final product.


So they must know and believe in their non-negotiables — what cannot be cut or changed, no matter what. My two typically are:

  • The piece’s core messaging. There’s an end goal for every piece; if that’s being negotiated out, you have a scope change on your hands.
  • The piece’s “Oh that’s neat!” moments. The specific examples, moving statistics, and true thought leadership that makes content stand out.

You are also responsible for maintaining the piece’s narrative flow — you guide the reader down the river. When others come in to redirect that river, you have to stand firm and push people back to the right flow.


Beyond that, everything else is negotiable. Let it go and move on.

Ask for help — but be specific

You should ask your team and managers for help — they want to help you. But I usually see this happen on a spectrum:

  • The team member is so nervous about asking for help that they say nothing.
  • The team member asks questions, but asks one about seemingly every sentence.

The results are a lack of clarity around the problem: either you don’t know there’s one or there are too many to know where to start.

Just as they shape narratives, professional writers need to shape specific and clear asks to solve problems. How do you do that?

  1. Identify your knowledge gap. Do your research into a problem first: ask your teammates, the Internet, ChatGPT, wherever. Be sure you just haven’t skipped over a good answer because you never looked.
  2. Present this body of work as a step toward a solution. Your bosses want to know what you’ve tried already and that you’re thinking about a solution already. That shows initiative and gets your bosses interested in the outcome.
  3. Your actual ask is for a tactic or next step you haven’t presented yet. It could be joining the next client call to mine for a piece of information, or getting access to an online course to learn a new writing tool. But ask your boss’s thoughts on the next step they would take — make them part of the solution. 

Great questions show you’re invested in your clients’ and team’s success. Bosses remember that come promotion time.

A professional writer practices the process

Like any part of the writing craft, you need to practice the process. You’ll make mistakes as you build these three skills, but from those experiences, you’ll discover the important goings-on that happen around content production.


Mastering the processes makes a big difference to the teams and clients you work with — and it sets you apart from many other writers (even those in the industry today). Train these skills, and you’ll stand out as an in-demand professional writer.

View more on what to know about writing professionally on YouTube.