Do you write? If the answer to that question is yes, then congratulations, you're a real writer.
But I don't write for hours every day. I still have a day job. I only get an hour or two to write every day. Am I still a writer?
See previous answer.
I know a lot of writers, un-published authors for the most part but I've even heard this come from a few published ones too, who continue to believe they aren't real writers because they still have day jobs to pay their bills, don't write for hours on end, and have been working on the same story for the past year, writing and revising.
I'm no expert on this, but I do know I've felt like this many times. I still feel like it from time to time. I have to remind myself of the answer to that first question. Do I write? Then yes, I'm a writer.
Kristen Lamb has a brilliant post today dealing with just this topic. She also brings up the fact that writing is like a small business. I found that an interesting comparison, and one that I think requires some thought.
Being published is how many of us gauge if we're writers or not. In this new world of publishing opportunities there are many ways to get that result. But the question comes up again. Are we REAL authors if we self publish? If we go through a small press without agent representation? Are we really REAL authors if we have an agent and a big publisher buys our work?
For the longest time, the answer to that last question was yes. Now, is it as vital to get a big publisher? I don't know on that one, though I do know you're less likely to see indie, small press, and self pubbed books on the NYTBS list. I won't say it's impossible, because really anything can happen. But the NYT tends to favor traditionally published books.
The question really shouldn't be are we real writers/authors. The question should be “do we enjoy what we're doing and are we telling the story we want to tell?” If the answer to that is yes, then I believe that's what matters. As writers, we write to tell stories. Sometimes we sell them. Sometimes we don't. But those stories that we don't sell still have value. They're still stories we kept hidden in our brains until they finally emerged onto paper (or word processor).
So, are you writing stories? Do you enjoy the act of writing stories? Are you willing to put the work into those stories that you need to?
Then yes, you are a writer.