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#1 Edited by Daneian (1226 posts) -

Writing has been a major part of my life for more than a decade. I am constantly studying the principles, elements, structure and organization behind everything from narrative to gameplay and it's become so intrinsically a part of who I am and what I want to do that everything else takes a back seat.

But in the past twelve years, I can no longer point to a specific reason why I continue to love it as much as I do.

So I was hoping to know why you create. Is it a means to express yourself? Is it to make sense of the world around you or to better understand yourself? Do you enjoy the act of making something out of nothing? No reason is absurd if its the truth.

EDIT: Thanks to everyone who has shared their thoughts on this topic. I thought I would collect some of the responses we've been getting up front so we can get a good overall idea.

PERSONAL

  • Self expression
  • Love of the act of creating
  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Desire to make sense of self
  • To have a completed product
  • To earn a living (how marvelous to be paid for something you love)

SOCIAL

  • Social reform
  • Contributing to the world/sharing a gift

Please keep your reasons coming, even if someone else has already mentioned yours.

#2 Posted by Aetheldod (3542 posts) -

A means to express myself and to create something out of nothing , also created art and worlds give me passion for something. Passion is very lacking in my normal day to day existence.

#3 Posted by Daneian (1226 posts) -

@Aetheldod: Being passionate about something is incredibly important. It brings us hope and sustains us when times are tough.

#4 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Inertia. I write because I am in a constant state of writing.

#5 Posted by TooWalrus (13155 posts) -

Sometimes I'll get an idea in my head that just sounds fun to make. This summer, I went to the hardware store and using some PVC pipe, model magic, zip ties, handles from squirt guns and colored duct-tape (black, gold and wood-grain) I was able to make a pretty convincing RPG-7 replica that was perfect for launching 2-inch mortar fireworks out of. I brought it to our 4th of July party, and it was a big hit with all of the drunk college-age students there... shit got dangerous. I got pulled over for making an abrupt u-turn across four lanes of traffic later that week, and I had it in my back seat, and the cop asked "what's this back here... it looks like a rocket launcher?" I explained it to him and he just said "oh, cool" and let me go. Good times. No, there's no real deeper meaning to making, other than that I enjoy it.

Online
#6 Posted by Imsorrymsjackson (855 posts) -

I create beautiful plates of food just because it makes me happy to see peoples faces light up when they see it and eat it. Sorry for the pic quality, it was pro shot and they muffed up the sizing for the website for the old place I used to work.

#7 Posted by JigsawIntoSpace (36 posts) -

"He asked, "What makes a man a writer?"

"Well," I said "it's simple. You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge." - Bukowski

#8 Posted by Butler (384 posts) -

Because I have to. There is no other way of life for me then that of the creator. And plus it's really awesome to think about the fact that I can make intangible thoughts in my head exist physically in the world if I build it or in other people's heads if I write it down. Pretty damn amazing in retrospect.

#9 Posted by JOURN3Y (230 posts) -

Because people are wrong on the internet!

#10 Posted by Daneian (1226 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

Inertia. I write because I am in a constant state of writing.

I understand this. I have dozens of in-progress drafts. I insist the current one will be the last for a while, then find myself immediately starting another.

@Imsorrymsjackson: I hadn't even considered the culinary arts. Is there any one facet of this you like the most (taste, presentation), or is it in preparing the entire experience?

#11 Posted by HarlechQuinn (447 posts) -

Mostly out of boredom...

#12 Posted by Akrid (1356 posts) -

It's pretty therapeutic and satisfying to create something. Self-improvement is very rewarding in itself. If some enjoy the end-product, that's a good bonus.

@JOURN3Y said:

Because people are wrong on the internet!

And mostly that.

#13 Posted by Daneian (1226 posts) -

@JOURN3Y said:

Because people are wrong on the internet!

Social reform is as good a reason as any.

#14 Posted by habster3 (3595 posts) -

I mainly write and perform music because it gives me a sense of meaning. I practically fuck up everything else I do, and I feel absolutely worthless because of it. Although I still think I'm a pretty meh musician, my "art" makes me feel a little less worthless (as did dressing up like a woman for my school's play and winning a gold medal for it, but that's for another time).

#15 Posted by Daneian (1226 posts) -

@habster3 said:

I mainly write and perform music because it gives me a sense of meaning.

Pride is absolutely one of the most important byproducts of being productive. Pride leads to self-respect and to self-confidence. As far as your musical ability, great artists are rarely born great artists. Thanks for contributing.

#16 Posted by Lysergica33 (521 posts) -

As a recently signed musician, I've found myself in a kind of transitionary state as of late. Most of the time I have spent as a musician has been spent wanting to stay underground. I believed my music was to help raise my soul, to help exorcise my demons and to enable myself to grow through my self-expression. Any success and appreciation my band found, I just viewed as happy accident. It was for me first, others second.

Recently though, I've begun to realise that my music is now bigger than myself. My music affects others, brings them joy, enables them to feel a connection through which they themselves can grow and change. I've been a long time believer that love can change the world and that the more you focus that specific energy, the more profoundly you can affect others, but for some reason I never really took the mental leap to connect that with my music. But now I realise my band's recent signing to a small label is a truly profound gift. I'm at a bit of a crossroads in my life and I'm faced with the choice of following my academic pursuits (which I'm already playing catch-up on, due to dropping out to sort my head out) or allowing this band to flourish. I've never wanted to simply "work," I've always desired something higher than that, and this band has given me a vehicle to strive for that higher ideal, to connect with people from all walks of life and to have a positive effect on other people's souls, to be the soundtrack to their love and loss, their happiness and their sadness, their rage and their bliss, and for that opportunity I am deeply grateful.

Kind of a weird answer. If you'd asked me this question 6 months ago, that second paragraph wouldn't be there. Infact if you had asked me this question a WEEK ago, that second paragraph wouldn't be there. These are all very recent developments for me, but they fill me with great excitement, joy and love.

#17 Edited by Daneian (1226 posts) -

@Lysergica33: Let me start by saying congratulations, that's great! Art can be a vehicle for social reform and can change the world because its used as a conceptual model for how a philosophy works. It is strange to see that all creative endeavors impact the creator and consumer differently.

One of the reasons I'm asking this question in the first place is that I am writing a story and trying to articulate why a writer likes to write in an attempt to get the audience to care about his struggle. Since I can only speak of myself, I needed to re-connect with that part of myself. I believe in the power of story in the way you believe in the power of music. But the more I try to present his reasons in a tangible way, the harder I find it to articulate. Part of that comes from how other people might perceive our reasons for writing, sculpting, whathaveyou- they might find it easier to relate to someone who fights a desperate battle to make his dreams a reality (as you are) than they can to the idea of someone trying to change society, especially if they like society the way it is. People have offered many great reasons why they like to create, ones I whole heartedly share, but I wonder if you need to already be in this mindset to truly understand where someone else is coming from.

#18 Posted by Lysergica33 (521 posts) -

@Daneian said:

@Lysergica33: Let me start by saying congratulations, that's great! Art can be a vehicle for social reform and can change the world because its used as a conceptual model for how a philosophy works. It is strange to see that all creative endeavors impact the creator and consumer differently.

One of the reasons I'm asking this question in the first place is that I am writing a story and trying to articulate why a writer likes to write in an attempt to get the audience to care about his struggle. Since I can only speak of myself, I needed to re-connect with that part of myself. I believe in the power of story in the way you believe in the power of music. But the more I try to present his reasons in a tangible way, the harder I find it to articulate. Part of that comes from how other people might perceive our reasons for writing, sculpting, whathaveyou- they might find it easier to relate to someone who fights a desperate battle to make his dreams a reality (as you are) than they can to the idea of someone trying to change society, especially if they like society the way it is. People have offered many great reasons why they like to create, ones I whole heartedly share, but I wonder if you need to already be in this mindset to truly understand where someone else is coming from.

Mmm.. Meta. I found myself faced with a similar struggle for my band's first album too. I was faced with a similar plight when penning the lyrics to my band's last release. I essentially had to try and sum up my own personal enlightenment experience in a way that would fit a death metal album without seeming cheesy, dogmatic or forceful, all while attempting to veil a concept that is already incredibly difficult to explain with mere words with allegory, metaphor and meta-narrative. It took me two years, but I got it. So, I really feel you on this one.

The only words of advice I feel I can offer is be real, be true to yourself and to your own personal journey. Write what you know and all that. I wish you the best of luck with your writing!! :)

#19 Posted by SirOptimusPrime (1990 posts) -

It's a means to at least try and manage my mental health, honestly. If I have an episode and I'm in the low, then sitting at my keyboard can be really cathartic. It's not to get rid of the feeling, but to help deal with it by translating to another form of expression. I've gotten through many an especially dark time by writing music that I can speak with on a personal level, if that makes sense.

It's, like, artistic too man.

#20 Posted by crusader8463 (14419 posts) -

When I was a kid I drew because I couldn't stop thinking and seeing monsters and designs for characters in my head. Every time I would watch a cartoon or read a comic book I would think of a dozen different ways to modify the design of the things in it. I felt like it was a waste having all these ideas for characters that I could see so clearly when I closed my eyes and that they needed to be put into some form that I could look at. Sadly what was put on paper never matched what I had in my head and years later my love of art was destroyed when I went to college to learn 3D art. I haven't had any kind of artistic output since 2004-2006. I just don't have that love or care for it that I once did.

#21 Posted by PassiveKaerenai (326 posts) -

Because I have talent. I don't want to die knowing I haven't lived up to it.

#22 Posted by MikkaQ (10278 posts) -

I guess to meet new people, make some money and to see my ideas translate from my head to something more tangible, that's probably the biggest reason right there.

#23 Posted by Imsorrymsjackson (855 posts) -

@Daneian said:

@Video_Game_King said:

Inertia. I write because I am in a constant state of writing.

I understand this. I have dozens of in-progress drafts. I insist the current one will be the last for a while, then find myself immediately starting another.

@Imsorrymsjackson: I hadn't even considered the culinary arts. Is there any one facet of this you like the most (taste, presentation), or is it in preparing the entire experience?

I think it is just a combination of all those things. The conception of a dish from the raw ingredients from a supplier to the final dish hitting the table is a long, intense and tough process. That dish above took 2 weeks to get right in my free time, the balance of flavors, the presentation, the way it impacts the diners perception of what is to come after such a dish. Getting good feedback and seeing the enjoyment on someones face just makes it all worth it when you realised that is your dish, that you created, perfected and then executed with timing and precision.

#24 Posted by Hamst3r (4479 posts) -

A bad case of, "That's easy. I can do that." syndrome.

#25 Posted by csl316 (8359 posts) -

It's exciting, doing guitar for over a decade gives you confidence that you're good at something, it's an outlet for negative emotions... Lotsa stuff.

People ask if I regret not going to school for it, but in all honesty I think the fact that it's not my job keeps it more fun.

Online
#26 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8698 posts) -

I write because nobody listens.

#27 Edited by notdavid (836 posts) -

I've had a plethora of stories flying around my head for years now. I've been thinking about the right medium to put them into, because I'm not too into the actual act of writing. I just like telling stories. So I've been trying out different artforms, trying to find on that'll stick. After giving drawing a shot for a year or two, I'm learning guitar at the moment. I'm just trying to find a way to tell the stories that keep accidentally bursting into my brain, but in a way that I'm not incredibly bored by.

I'm totally still writing, though. I'm terrible at it, but I'm worse at other storytelling methods.

#28 Posted by Carlos1408 (1495 posts) -

I don't know if I can put it into words but I'm going to try; there are just so many different reasons that urge me to compose.

I know from the moment I became musically inclined I wanted to create rather than reproduce or perform something, even though the idea of that is also exciting. The experience in that field has also been fun for me (as well as nerve wrecking), but it never really attracted me as much as making my own music. Doing my undergraduate really made this clear to me as I developed musically and my tastes expanded. At the beginning my reasons were simply expressing myself and sharing my ideas, but as my musical skills and pallet grew so did my interest and reasons for engaging with music. Near the end of my degree I became obsessed with how music works and particularly the compositional process; by that I mean all the different methods there are for doing so. I guess the more I became educated in music the more I wanted to know about the way it is made, therefore, looking at all sorts of different types of it became essential. Now I am doing a Masters in composition and am absolutely enthralled with it, I've also realized that this constant thirst for knowledge is also a search for self-improvement. Apart from self-improvement I am also fascinated with all the different movements there have been in the arts (particularly musically, but they all correlate). Researching passed artistic movements I feel may bring me closer to discovering, contributing to or simply witnessing a new one. In a nutshell it is a journey of self-exploration and urge to contribute to society.

#29 Posted by HistoryInRust (6289 posts) -

Because I don't know how to do anything else.

#30 Posted by Trainer_Red (314 posts) -

I mostly draw to express myself and to release my emotions into something productive. I also love making things out of nothing.

#31 Posted by ShaggE (6402 posts) -

The constant imagery in my head, and the frustration of not being able to get it out. I'm pretty sure that I'm not very talented in any of the creative arts, but I don't believe that I'm irreversibly terrible, either.

I want, more than anything, to entertain, and I refuse to give up on that.

#32 Posted by Saethir (353 posts) -

A mountain climber climbs the mountain because it's there.
I create because it isn't.


Real talk: because I've had these stories / designs in my head for too long and I need to do something with them.

#33 Posted by Mayu_Zane (606 posts) -

Because I love telling stories and watching people's reaction to them.

#34 Posted by Apparatus_Unearth (3131 posts) -

For my own personal outlet.

#35 Posted by Daneian (1226 posts) -

@Carlos1408 said:

In a nutshell it is a journey of self-exploration and urge to contribute to society.

Several people have indicated social reasons for why they create and I am really curious about it because 'society' is such a large and broadly defined term. It means so many things to so many different people. How do you feel your music contributes to society? Which part of society do you wish to address? Are you trying to open peoples minds to different perspectives or trying to discredit a particular view? I often have social commentary in the pieces I write, something I'm sure most people have, because I can't help but think about them.

In an earlier post, I spoke about how I think that art is important for passing ideas. On these very forums, we see users who feel very strongly about specific issues and spend a lot of time discussing them. Not only are these conversations directed to a much smaller audience, but have a harder time affecting anyone because peoples guards are often up gong in. I think its so much more effective than one on one discussion because it can provide a working model for how specific points work. As an example, The Dark Knight uses Batman as a means to discuss the role of the hero by showing his strength and resolve against not only a man who wishes to destroy Gotham but the city willing to sacrifice him for their own safety. Ideas have a way of getting to people that regular discussion often cant, no matter how civil.

#36 Posted by mandude (2669 posts) -

Because it's easier than working.

#37 Posted by bassman2112 (824 posts) -

Since I was young, I played music. I don't know why; but it's one of the few things I consider myself really good at.

Now, in my adult life, I know getting a job as a musician is near impossible; but I'm giving it my full dedication anyways. I have been through some extremely hard times lately, (was very near suicide at a few points) but I still really enjoy creating things that make people smile. That's what matters to me, and that is why I continue to make music.

#38 Posted by SgtSphynx (1333 posts) -

I honestly don't know other than that I enjoy building, making and creating stuff.

#39 Posted by Hunter5024 (5600 posts) -

There was a very important person I knew who died when she was only 18, and that has heavily influenced my life ever since then. More things feel like a waste of time to me now, and it's more important for me to feel like I'm doing something meaningful. Writing feels meaningful to me, so I write.

#40 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@TaliciaDragonsong said:

I write because nobody listens.

Of course they don't. You can't listen to writing.

#41 Posted by Daneian (1226 posts) -

@Bassman2112: I hear that. I've been working on the same project for five years. When I started, I chose a job that would allow me the time I needed to work on it but time has continued to progressed. Now I'm stuck- work at a low paying job without a complete project to show for it.

#42 Posted by Chop (1996 posts) -

I guess since I never, EVER show my creative works to others, I can't say it's for society or the joy of others. I think, personally, I write because my thoughts have to go somewhere. If I kept everything in my head, all bottled up, I'd go insane. Since I'm too insecure to share my ideas and or troubles with others, I turn them into stories instead. It's cathartic to get your thoughts out somehow, someway.

#43 Posted by Lysergica33 (521 posts) -

Just wanted to say, this topic is fucking great and that I wish all the artists of Giant Bomb the best of luck in all of their endeavours, and that I hope you all find much joy and beauty in what you do ^-^

#44 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8698 posts) -
@Video_Game_King: Nobody listens to a word I say, so instead I write.
 
For a king you're not very perceptive.
#45 Posted by BisonHero (6398 posts) -

@crusader8463 said:

When I was a kid I drew because I couldn't stop thinking and seeing monsters and designs for characters in my head. Every time I would watch a cartoon or read a comic book I would think of a dozen different ways to modify the design of the things in it. I felt like it was a waste having all these ideas for characters that I could see so clearly when I closed my eyes and that they needed to be put into some form that I could look at. Sadly what was put on paper never matched what I had in my head and years later my love of art was destroyed when I went to college to learn 3D art. I haven't had any kind of artistic output since 2004-2006. I just don't have that love or care for it that I once did.

That story makes me feel genuinely sad. It's too bad that you lost something that used to be kind of awesome to you. I hope you're happy doing what you've been doing since then.

I've always been kind of rubbish at doing any of the creative things in this thread. Terrible at visual arts, never been much of a composer or jam session kind of musician (though I enjoy practicing pieces from sheet music or tablature, but terrible at picking up songs just by listening to them). Writing is the closest to a creative thing that I'm decent at, and I wrote some short stories in high school I was pretty proud of (and got near perfect marks, so I hope that means if I looked at them now they would still be conceptually sound at least). But I'm more likely to channel that writing ability into expressing my thoughts and opinions than in creating worlds or fiction.

Is coding/programming creating? I did some of that in high school and briefly was going to get a degree in computer science, but realized after a year in university that I was avoiding my classes and didn't really like messing around with code as much as I thought. And watching the Double Fine Adventure documentary has made me realize that I probably made the right choice, as seeing programmers and whatever talk about how much they like programming games made me remember how I kind of just barely enjoyed programming, and it would've been crazy for me to make that my career.

#46 Posted by Inkerman (1451 posts) -

I do it because I do it in my mind and have to have some release for it. For my writing, it's something to do with words, I like the way they can be used to create feelings and ideas.

#47 Posted by Extreme_Popcorn (842 posts) -

I build because I like having a physical thing showing what I've achieved in life. Sure you could say kids offer that but they can let you down and my beloved oil terminal has never let me down. Ever.

#48 Posted by Icemael (6314 posts) -

Because it is challenging (and the challenge never ends -- there is always room for improvement), engaging and satisfying.

#49 Posted by geirr (2508 posts) -

For happiness and money.

#50 Posted by SomeJerk (3203 posts) -

Productive past-time that anybody with working ears can appreciate, that speaks directly to body and soul. It's good company with an interest in gaming, gives you something else to do rather than being the one thing, and they both have music in them, and if you go the audio engineering route of things it'll get you places in both fields.
 
It also gets you a lot of fans for your work, holy shit.