That’s a trick question, right?
I had a writing professor as an undergrad that defined a “writer” as someone who got paid to write. I disagree. It’s like saying you’re not anything unless you get paid to do it. We are all a lot of things that we choose to be – I write because I enjoy it, not because I might get a dime or two out of it.
I think she meant it as a job title. No, I’m not a “writer” on my taxes. I’m a writer because I write in my spare time. I enjoy writing. My mom doesn’t get paid to garden, yet every summer she’s outside.
If you write, you are a writer by laws of English grammar. You don’t have to be published to consider yourself a writer. Maybe you keep your poems or stories in a shoe box or on a specially named file on your computer. Publication should be the goal of writers – unless it’s not. Maybe you post your writings online for the world, that’s fine to. Technically, that’s publishing them online.
That same professor was very proud of her literary novel, too. She struck me as the traditionalist when it came to publishing – it’s the same sort of “snobby” attitude people of the publishing world have when it comes to self-publishing. They see it as a way for writers who aren’t “good enough” to land a traditional agent to skip the process. It’s a “cheap” way to call yourself a writer.
Unfortunately, that’s sometimes true. But, it is up to the other indie writers who spend time, brain cells, and money to make our stories the best we can. We’ve got to shatter that mold of bad indie writing!
I am a writer. I will continue to be until I am nothing.