Category: Writing Techniques

Automatic Writing

Automatic Writing

Automatic writing is the most direct of Surrealist techniques.

Sit at a table with pen and paper; put yourself in a 'receptive' frame of mind, and start writing. Continue writing without thinking of what is appearing beneath your pen. Write as fast as you can. If, for some reason, the flow stops, leave a space and immediately begin again by writing down the first letter of the next sentence. Choose this letter at random before you begin, for instance, a 't', and always begin this new sentence with a 't'.

Although in the purest version of automatism nothing is 'corrected' or re-written the unexpected material produced by this method can be used as the basis for further composition. What is crucial is the un-preditated free-association that creates the basic text.

It is this production of 'unexpected material' that serves itself as much as it serves as a basis for further 'Surrealistic' manipulation and interpretation, in the realm of the literary, the graphic, the erotic, the expulsatory.

Automatic writing is writing directed by the unconscious mind. It is sometimes called "trance" writing because it is done quickly and without judgment, writing whatever comes to mind, "without consciousness," as if in a trance. It is believed that this allows one to tap into the subconscious mind where "the true self" dwells. Uninhibited by the conscious mind, deep and mystical thoughts can be accessed.

Source: A Book of Surrealist Games

Alastair Brotchie

Category: Creative Writing Techniques