What is creative writing? Opening to an idea, following where it leads, exploring it, getting inside it and crafting a way to bring it alive through story. Creative writing is observing a subject, its strengths, weaknesses, contexts, perceptions and misperceptions about it, wants, needs, identity, senses... the full spectrum of facts. Then writing a story, poem, screenplay, stageplay, or novel in an imaginative way that is characterized by originality and expressiveness.
Why write? Developing an idea into a concept, then into a premise, and then writing about it is Sisyphean, like hauling a wheelbarrow up K2. No one undertakes this lightly. So why do it? Often, the ambition sprouts from a fertile childhood, a sense of otherness from earliest memory, or distinctive experience. Maybe something as simple as an insatiable curiosity to learn and understand. Michael Chabon ( in Imaginary Homelands, which first appeared in Civilization) describes it:
I write from the place I live: in exile. ... I bear no marks or scars. I haven't lost anything that isn't lost by everyone.
And yet here I am - here I have always been, for as long as I can remember knowing anything about myself - feeling like a stranger.
For his entire life, he says he has been engaged in
One search, with a sole objective: a home, a world to call my own.
The Money Myth
Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Samuel Johnson ("No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money") notwithstanding, no writer starts writing for the money. For most if not all of the writers I know there is never any rumuneration equal to a living wage for the work invested in a novel. "If you would be a reader, read; if a writer, write," said Epictetus. Novelists write to learn, to understand, to experience, to entertain, to create a world in which to live. That's pretty much the sum of it.