Always keep a calendar. It should include such things as a writing schedule, upcoming meetings, assignment deadlines, submission response dates (expected replies), upcoming payments, upcoming publication dates and tax deadlines. Yes, generally writers are freelance, meaning the tax stipulations are different for them when it comes time to efile their taxes. Therefore, these deadlines are particularly important.
Track all of your submissions and replies. You can use a program such as Microsoft Outlook or simply keep a notebook or planner. There are plenty of planning / scheduling books at any large bookstore. Look around until you find one that seems to suit you. Read a book about time management while you are there. Time management is crucial for professional writers.
Start a filing system. Keep copies of all of your manuscripts and publications. Keep research files on the topics you write about. Keep all of your receipts and invoices. Keep all of your tax records.
Learn to promote yourself. Some types of self promotion writers use are: business cards, resumes, portfolios, readings, signings, advertisements, web sites, lectures, teaching classes, attending conferences, hosting parties (such as publication parties), sending out clippings of your latest publications, sending out review copies, getting endorsements from other writers and contacting the media as a potential source.
Always treat editors, agents, publishers and clients as what they are — business contacts. Depending on the person, you may not always need to be formal, but you should always be professional. If you have an issue, don’t whine and complain or make it personal. Present your side of a problem rationally and professionally. Don’t back down if something is important, but always remember that they are your customers. A person is more likely to want to work with you in the future if they have had a good experience working with you in the past.
Set business goals for yourself. There are all sorts of goals you can set such as making a certain amount of money, cracking a market, getting published a specific number of times, finishing a project ahead of schedule, or contacting a specific number of new editors or clients. It is good to have something to work toward.
Research markets before you jump into them. If there is a topic that interests you, find out what the market for that topic is. Whether you want to write mystery novels, history articles or architectural reviews, find out what the market is like. Does the market pay what you need? Is the market open to newcomers? How much competition do you have? How many potential paying clients can you find? Is there special knowledge or certification that you need? Look before you leap.
Get to know the resources in your area such as libraries, associations and clubs, places that host readings, beautiful places to write, Internet hot spots, bookstores, shipping and mailing stores, office supply stores, publications and potential clients.