Mario Rizzo, the well-known economics professor at New York University (and author with Gerald O’Driscoll of The Economics of Time and Ignorance), wrote about writing on his Facebook page:

I do not particularly like writing. It is hard. But I like even less not-writing. You cannot really know what you think about something unless you write it down. And if you have figured out something it is good to share it with others. But, still and all, writing is a pain. It is the price we pay for our (and everyone else’s) ignorance.

I have often thought about this problem, but Mario wrote it better than I non-wrote it. Writing is a pain but non-writing is a worse pain. (I am not sure if computers and word processing made writing more or less painful, but I would guess the latter at least for me.) I see Mario’s reflection as related to a short section in Ludwig von Mises’s Human Action: A Treatise on Economics (Third Edition, 1963):

The achievements of the creative innovator, his thoughts and theories, his poems, paintings, and compositions, cannot be classified praxeologically as products of labor. They are not the outcome of the employment of labor which could have been devoted to the production of other amenities for the “production” of a masterpiece of philosophy, art, or literature. Thinkers, poets, and artists are sometimes unfit to accomplish any other work. At any rate, the time and toil which they devote to creative activities are not withheld from employment for other purposes. …

It is, furthermore, impossible to substitute other people’s work for that of the creators. If Dante and Beethoven had not existed, one would not have been in a position to produce the Divina Comedia or the Ninth Symphony by assigning other men to these tasks. Neither society nor single individuals can substantially further the genius and his work. The highest intensity of the “demand” and the most peremptory order of the government are ineffectual. The genius does not deliver to order. Men cannot improve the natural and social conditions which bring about the creator and his creation, It is impossible to rear geniuses by eugenics, to train them by schooling, or to organize their activities. But, of course, one can organize society in such a way that no room is left for pioneers and their path-breaking.

The creative accomplishment of the genius … is by no means the result of production in the sense in which economics uses this term.

Mises was focusing on the creative genius. Preceding the above quote, he also wrote (and I think it’s even worse for the quasi-genius or the would-be genius):

[The genius] lives in creating and inventing. For him there is no leisure, only intermissions of temporary sterility and frustration. His incentive is not the desire to bring about a result, but the act of producing it. …

Creating is for him agony and torment, a ceaseless excruciating struggle against internal and external obstacles; it consumes and crushes him. … Nietzsche compared himself to the flame that insatiably consumes and destroys itself.  Such agonies are phenomena which have nothing in common with the connotations generally attached to the notions of work and labor, production and success, breadwinning and enjoyment of life.

Isn’t that an interesting and intriguing way to compare creation and economic action? Yet, it is arguably simpler to use a Beckerian approach: you write because it is less painful than the alternative, and less pain implies more utility (a more preferred situation).