What Does It Mean to be a REAL Writer?

am I a writer
Is a “real” writer a journalist or newspaper reporter? (image via Digital Sextant, flickr)

Are you a real writer? What does that mean to you?

As the creator of Quips and Tips for Successful Writers, one of the things I’ve always, always struggled with is the fact that I’m not a traditionally published author.

Can I run a strong, successful writing website when I’ve never been published? Never worked with an editor at a publishing house? Never received royalty checks? Never mourned my remainders?


Sure, I’ve been supporting myself as a freelance writer and blogger for four years, I write BC Women’s Hospital’s monthly eNews articles, I get article assignments from editors without having to pitch, I speak at conferences, and I even turn down consulting and writing work.

But it’s not enough.

This weekend I spoke at the first annual Women and Words Conference in Vancouver, and I asked several people if I can really call myself a writer. They said yes, of course, definitely, you’re all that and more!

The thing is, I don’t feel like a real writer.

If you’re in the same boat and you want to make money writing, read Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer by Moira Allen. A fantastic resource for writers!

Anyway, I’m ramping up my writing career — or “upping my game”, as one of the women at the conference encouraged us to do! I’m returning to my pursuit of a traditional book publishing contract. An agent.

Here’s the fleece, the confirmation that I’m moving in the right direction: I just discovered that someone called Auden posted a huge list of her favorite “Quips and Tips” writing links on Mibba – The Adventurous Writer. Lots of people left comments; here’s the one that really resonated with me:

“I could never trust people who give writerly advice without actually being actual published writers,” says Mr W.H.

Writer's Market 2020: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published
Writer's Market 2020: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published - Yes, you CAN get published! It's not impossible - but only if you're willing to do the work. Writer's Market 2020 offers thousands of opportunities for writers, including listings for book publishers, consumer and trade magazines, contests and awards and literary agents — and even new playwriting and screenwriting sections.

Though the sentence needs a bit o’ editing, the sentiment reflects my exact feelings! To me, a real writer is someone who 1) makes money writing; and 2) has been traditionally published.

Fellow scribes, what do YOU think it means to be a REAL writer?

Do you feel weird calling yourself a writer? How about a blogger, story teller, poet? I welcome your thoughts below…


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