I use writing to act out fantasy and to explore situations that I wouldn't ever conceivably experience irl. I've used it for introspection, for auto-gratification, for sussing out hypothesis of the art of humanities, for introspection, and for fun.
Under all that there was originally a desire to become rich and/or famous even if posthumously. I was cured of that wish without permanent damage, to myself anyway. Well, seemingly so anyway.
Initially, I was writing in response to things I saw in the culture around me, but....I was so slow at it, that the culture changed and those things are left behind for newer things
Today, I write because it brings meaning. I like the story, the characters, and I want them to be done justice and then sent out into the world. My expectation is few will read it, and it will not make me much money, but then....I've not started on the marketing yet. I doubt I can 'save the world' but I can add a perspective that may be a nudge to some.
I write because I can't not hear stories in my head. If I go too long without writing, my brain starts narrating for me.
She crept though the dark, keeping her breath shallow and her footfalls light. The least sound would give her away, and they would come. They always came. Demanding their sacrifices. She reached out a shaky hand and brushed the knob of the cabinet door. Almost there. She teased the door open an inch, stopping to listen for the telltale snuffling noises that she had been spotted. That they were coming. Another inch, her goal almost in reach. She let out the breath she had been holding and opened the door the last inch.
She sagged in defeat as the hue and cry spread around her. Galloping footsteps converged on her from all directions. The beasts were coming. There would be no solo peanut butter tonight.
Well writing never stopped this but my mind often playes out whatever I'm doing as if I'm on a stage and being watched by legions of loyal followers. It is fun though. I'm a ham and a jester, so it suits me.
Compulsion here, too. And the stories that scratch at me, like a dog wanting to be let out.
But there's another aspect to the compulsion; namely, once I start a story, there's a kind of desire--even guilt--that I owe something to the characters. Once I have a sense of who they are, I feel badly if I just walk away. I have a story like that right now. I started writing it, got some way into it, but got bogged down. Eventually I switched to my current project, but I have a strong sense of obligation to that other story. It's not just that the dog wants out, it's like I'm not feeding and caring for it.
I'll get back to you, Friedrich and Otto. If'n the creek don't rise.
I process my life through fiction. Helps me find a safe place to play out feelings or senarios. Sometimes I'll be in the middle of an activity and it will strike me this is how this character feels. How would it look in their world?
I can also relate to the compulsion. A "what if" creeps in my mind, and I can't let it go until I've let it play out, at least a little bit.
Yeah, it's a compulsion for me too. Besides what else would I be doing? I sit down and suddenly I'm typing, lost in my newest work - and being a pantster I often don't even know what it's about! Sometimes I can't even find the genre. For example I just wrote my first detective / police procedural. Don't know why, but I felt the urge and had to finish it.
My previous answer was written several hours after having an accident on my e-trike so I haven't given full justice to the question.
For me, what drives me to write is a desire to create imaginary places and share it with other people. Adding characters who aren't clichés or stereotypes and telling stories that contain social commentary without being preachy helps to breathe life into the imaginary places.
Aside from that, writing is a very cheap thing to do. It's finding the time to do it that's usually the problem.
For me, I have to say its escapism and also the need to release my thoughts so I wouldn't break. Whether it be in the form of poetry or large scale stories or short ones.
Before I started writing and only dreamed of writing, I used to mainly imagined myself writing strictly fantasy but these days I'm not really sure. Of course 70% of my writing is still fantasy. Even though I try to make that percentage up to at least 90% I find it difficult to write just the same genre but maybe that's just me.