That’s a very insidious phrase—real writer. Often it’s used as in: You’re not a REAL writer unless you... OR You’re not a REAL writer if you don’t....
And if we don’t fit whatever that is, we may start to doubt ourselves. We think that getting published will make us REAL writers. Except that published authors start thinking, I’ll be a REAL writer if I make the best seller list or make X dollars for my next book.
Bottom line? You are a writer if you write. You cannot control the outcome but you are a writer if you write.
If we do not take ourselves seriously as writers, no one else will. Heaven knows it can be tough enough even if we do! I know published authors (and I was one) whose writing was treated by family as not real, not important, not a career. I had friends who didn’t respect what I did. And heaven help me, most of the time, if a stranger found out that what I wrote was romance!
We are writers if we write. What we write matters. (I have an essay on my website that I wrote shortly after 9/11 about the importance of what we do.) Each of us will choose to write what it is we are supposed to write. Each of us has our unique perspective and gifts to bring to telling a story or sharing information.
Respect what you write. It doesn’t have to be perfect to deserve respect, just as human beings don’t have to be perfect to deserve respect. Respect yourself as a writer. You are doing what many people dream about but never actually get around to doing. Respect that writers need time to daydream. Writers need time to play. How else can we stay in touch with that part of us most uniquely suited to imagine new stories? As children we had no trouble playing make believe! It’s only as adults that we worry if our make believe will be “good enough.” We need time to stay in touch or get back in touch with that child we were—the one who knew how to be fearless in playing make believe and in imagining how the world could be.
When we write, we help others see the world and people in a new way. We may share wisdom and understanding that is sometimes badly needed. Each of us will do it in our own way and each way matters because just as we are all different as writers, readers are all different and for each of us there are readers out there who may be touched to the core by what we write.
What if we are never published? I have never yet known a writer who regretted writing something that came from the heart. I have never yet known a writer who regretted searching for ways to connect with others mind to mind and heart to heart. I have known writers who tried to write what they thought they were supposed to write or what might be respected or well paid who regretted the time spent—but that was often true whether or not they ended up getting published.
If you write, you are a REAL writer.