Automatic writing is a technique in which the writer surrenders control of their words and allows their thoughts and ideas to flow freely, without premeditation or editing. This type of writing is often associated with the surrealist movement, which sought to challenge the traditional rules of artistic expression and explore the depths of the unconscious mind. Other terms for automatic writing include freewriting, stream of consciousness writing, and free flow writing.
As a writer, you may find yourself drawn to the unpredictable and unstructured nature of automatic writing. The freedom and spontaneity of this approach can be liberating, and can lead to some truly unexpected and creative ideas. However, automatic writing can also be challenging, as it can be difficult to shape and mold these free-flowing thoughts into a cohesive and structured piece of writing.
One way to overcome this challenge is to weave pieces of automatic writing into a larger, more structured work. By combining the unstructured and unpredictable nature of automatic writing with the structure and organization of a more traditional writing style, you can create a rich and unexpected texture in your work.
The contrast between the structured and the unstructured can be jarring at first, but it can also be incredibly effective. As you weave these two elements together, you'll find that they begin to complement and enhance each other, creating a unique and intriguing reading experience.
For example, you might begin a piece of writing with a traditional introduction, providing the reader with context and setting the scene. But as the piece progresses, you could introduce snippets of automatic writing, allowing your thoughts and ideas to flow freely and unpredictably. This contrast between the structured and the unstructured can create a sense of tension and uncertainty, drawing the reader in and keeping them engaged.
Another way to incorporate automatic writing into your work is to just use it as a source of inspiration. As you read through your automatic writing, you may come across certain phrases or ideas that catch your attention. These could be the seeds of a new story or essay, and you can use them as a starting point for your more structured writing.
As you experiment with combining automatic writing and more traditional styles of writing, you'll find that the possibilities are endless. The juxtaposition of the structured and the unstructured can create a rich and unexpected texture in your work, and can inspire new ideas and perspectives that you might not have discovered otherwise. So why not give it a try and see where your writing takes you?
Excerpt from A Book of Surrealist Games by Alastair Brotchie
"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."
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.