With any career -- especially those in the arts -- there are always misconceptions. I had a friend in elementary school who constantly heard people assume that her banker father was rich because he worked in a place with lots of money. As the daughter of a preacher, I've grown up with the assumption that I will either turn out "really good" or "really bad." And as a writer, there are plenty of misconceptions about me as well.
J.K. Rowling has been back in the news lately, both with the announcement of her new novel (which I can't wait to read) and the opening of Pottermore (which is an excellent time waster but a bit kiddish). Which allows me to recall a period in late July of 2007. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows had just come out and, like most fans, I was obsessed. I went to a midnight release party and spent that entire Saturday reading, only stopping for an occasional bathroom break, avoiding the internet, and even skipping church the next morning to finish reading (oh, I'm such a typical "really bad" preacher's kid!). And I don't even remember what brought the subject up but sometime a few days later one of my relatives said, in relation to the book, "J.K. Rowling will never have to write another book again!"
Now, I get what they meant. Ms. Rowling is way beyond financially secure. She'll probably never have to scrape together a few dollars to feed her family -- heck, she's richer than a lot of celebrities and, from what I've heard, the royal family in her native England. She doesn't need to keep working in order to make a living. But when you're a writer, you do need to write -- if not for your life, than for your sanity.
I can't imagine what would happen to me if I stopped writing. Even when I was younger and didn't have any aspirations to write professionally, I was constantly writing. And if I wasn't writing, I was reading. It was just a hobby back then, but it was still a part of me. I literally could not stop writing. Ever. Even if I was locked in a cell and never given another sheet of paper or pen again, the wheels of my imagination would constantly be going. They're constantly going as it is -- when I'm working, or trying to go to sleep, or even waking up in the morning. Sometimes they're churning while I'm supposed to be listening to the sermon in church (yet another "really bad" preacher's kid trait of mine). If I weren't allowed to write, or at least to create stories in my head, I don't know how I would function.
So, if they're anything like me, writers need to write. Even if they're one of the lucky few who hits it big with their writing, they can't stop writing. If you can't stop the creative juices from flowing without going insane...well, you just might actually be a writer.