All terms

What is autotelic?

A creative work that is its own end or purpose.

Autotelic: Tapping into the Intrinsic Value of Creative Writing

Autotelic is a term used to describe a creative work that is its own end or purpose. In the context of creative writing, it refers to writing for its own sake, rather than writing with the goal of achieving a certain result, such as publication or financial gain.

Autotelic writing is characterized by a focus on the creative process itself, rather than on external factors like audience or marketability. Writers who embrace an autotelic approach may find their work to be more fulfilling, as they are able to tap into the intrinsic value of the writing process.

Etymologically, autotelic comes from the Greek words auto, meaning self, and telos, meaning end or purpose. So, when we say that a creative work is autotelic, we mean that it is self-contained and self-sufficient.

From a grammatical standpoint, it's worth noting that autotelic is an adjective, not a noun, so we would refer to a piece of writing as being autotelic, rather than calling it an autotelic.

Overall, an autotelic approach to creative writing can be a rewarding and meaningful way to tap into one's own creativity.

Examples of Autotelic Writing in Literature

Autotelic writing is a concept that has been explored by numerous writers throughout literary history. Here are two examples:

Virginia Woolf's Diaries

Virginia Woolf's diaries are an excellent example of autotelic writing, as she wrote them primarily for her own pleasure and reflection, rather than with the intention of publishing them.

Jack Kerouac's On the Road

Jack Kerouac's On the Road is often cited as an example of autotelic writing, as the novel was written quickly and spontaneously, with little regard for conventional plot structure or character development.