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Why do writers write, painters paint and sculptors sculpt (etc.)?
I’m going to take writing as an example here (apply different terms for different professions).
Why does a writer spend months (if not years) writing a 60k word book and perfecting every sentence and word until it reads as smoothly as a licked popsicle and sparkles like a piece of metal which is also sparkly?
Certainly not for the pay. If that is the reason, a lot of people are going to be disappointed and/or starving. The chances of you being a big success (I mean J.K. Rowling success) is virtually zero. Only a small amount of people make huge success. Ergo, money cannot be the motivation unless there are no sharp tools in the shed.
The same logic applies to fame, so it’s not that either. What other reason could there be?
A lot of writers say that they have a compulsion to write. They become fidgety when they don’t. Carlos Fuentes once said that you write in order to stall death, like Scheherazade told stories. Others do it because they have no other way to communicate what they want to.
But that still does not answer the question. It is all too specific. There must be a universal reason that pools all the writers together that makes them sweat blood and ink to create something that will have gained them no visible benefit.
Art originated as a way to convey a truth in an entertaining manner. But after that? Past necessity? What drives artists to create things?
We write for the same reason we read. We want to solve the unsolved puzzle, see what is unseen, find meaning in every situation. Art lets us see inside all the cracks which are hidden in reality. And the creators have the best seat.
But still that does not answer our question entirely. There is more to creating something than to simply see it yourself. A writer wants the story to be read. No matter what they say, writers cannot only write for themselves.
In the end, art is about communication. Why do we tell jokes? Why do we share an interesting titbit of information? To bond with whomever we’re telling it to. To let them be as interested/amused as we were. The same with stories. You share a story to entertain others. To gain their approval.
When we break it down to the basic principles, we write because we want to make other people happy (a pretty common human behaviour).
If we take this in conjunction with our other reason, I think we have a good answer. Why do we write? Why do we create?
Because we want to entertain other people by letting them see how we solved the puzzle so that the findings can amaze them as much as it amazed us.