If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say “I write because I have to” I may well find myself living among the privileged two percent.
Being something of an idiot, I don’t know what they mean when they say that. It sounds as if sitting down and making words appear on a monitor is a compulsion. Or an obsession. Or an addiction. Or some other irresistible urge related to a disorder of some sort. And if they didn't write, they would suffer some horrible sort of withdrawal.
For me, writing is enjoyable. I do it because I want to (and when I want to, unless I am on deadline), not because I have to. When I don’t want to, I don’t. And I and don’t feel slighted or guilty or get the shakes or anything else unpleasant as a result.
And that makes sitting in a chair for extended periods of time and tapping away on a keyboard and staring at a glowing window with the alphabet crawling around on it like so many little ants tolerable.
Otherwise, it could qualify as a torture.
Although I can’t speak from experience—not being the addictive type—it seems to me that writing because you “have to” in order to satisfy some imagined (or, perhaps, real) compulsion is nothing more than going through the motions. And going through the motions is no way to write well.
Or live well, for that matter.