One of the magazines that sits around my family's house is Johns Hopkins University's Imagine. It's written for academically-minded highschool students.
The November/December 2009 issue is about "Writing." It includes a neat little article in which they interview six professional writers. (not all of them fiction writers)
One of the questions they answer is "Why do you write?". In paraphrase, here are some of the answers they gave:
1. Because I am compelled. I can't help myself.
2. Because writing helps me cope with life.
3. Because writing is how I make sense of the world.
4. Because I enjoy playing with imaginary characters and situations.
5. Because I want to tell an exciting story.
6. Because writing allows me to earn money with a flexible lifestyle.
7. Because writing helps me understand myself.
8. Because imaginative creation is fun.
Many of these, to some extent, are reasons why I write as well. I felt there was one large omission, however. What none of them said was this: "I have something specific to say to the world, and I believe it's worth saying." And I think that is a very powerful--and even common--reason to write.
All I know for sure is that if you don't have some terribly compelling reasons to write, you won't keep at it for very long. It's an important question to investigate.
Why do you write? Do you strongly agree or disagree with any of these answers? What would you add?