Since ancient times man has sought to express his thoughts and ideas and to preserve them in order to communicate them to others. Marks on cave walls may well have been for the practical purpose of keeping records of barter and early trades, but there were also purely abstract ideas in the form of drawings and paintings. As language developed thoughts and ideas could be written down and again, in the beginning, this was probably for commercial or historical reasons. Important events would have been recorded for posterity and important information documented for the good of others.
Some would have us believe that fictional writing developed from historical scripts, whether by mistake to some degree, or altered to give a different slant on events in history, perhaps for political or religious reasons.
It seems likely that it was not until mediaeval times that writing for pleasure became commonplace, and there followed a creative outpouring of works of various types created in the mind purely for pleasure – pleasure for the writer perhaps, but also for the reader. Poems and romances were popular amongst the more intellectual members of society, along with words set to music as operas and hymns.
There is much pleasure in reading the thoughts and ideas of others, as is in evidence from the popularity of novels even today despite the rise of TV and the internet. A writer once said that there were only seven basic storylines or fictional plots under the sun, and that every new novel had to be a variation on one or more. This may be so but the ingenuity of the human mind seems to find an inexhaustible supply of new ways to express ideas, stories, and emotions.
To some writers it seems that writing is a way of liberating their own fears or opinions and the whole process is cathartic; and such writing can be moving and passionate in a way that fiction written purely for profit rarely is.
For the reader the novel can open up new horizons and ideas about people and places never before dreamed of. Some may get vicarious pleasure from reading about human relationships that go wrong for one reason or another, or from stories that are pure fantasy and escapism.
Writing for pleasure is primarily writing for oneself, and wanting just to put the story out there in written form for one’s own satisfaction. It seems likely that the great authors in history were like this. It is hardly probable that Jane Austin or Charles Dickens sat down to write just for profit or even with much thought of entertaining others. They most likely did it for their own satisfaction, and it is this motive that seems to produce the greatest literature.