People have been writing for no money for as long as there's been no money to write for. Here are a few reasons I will sometimes write for free.
- I like and/or believe in the outlet I'm writing for free for
- There are fringe benefits to writing the story, eg: motorcycle pants, cruise tickets, lunch
- Writing the piece will open a door previously closed to me, eg: Poland
- I owe someone a favour
- I want someone to like me
- It's fun
- There's room to experiment and/or play
- There's a chance to settle a score
- There's a chance the outlet not paying me will someday be able to pay me
- The editor constantly apologizes for not paying me
- I am bad with deadlines and like the idea of shrugging off an assignment I sought out, "Well, it's not like they're paying me!"
You gotta figure it out for yourself when it's worth it to write or work or play for free. I can't tell you that.