Automatic Writing

By Nicholas Klacsanzky

Automatic writing or stream of consciousness writing is an important exercise each writer should know about. It allows writers to jot down thoughts freely without the barrier of an inner editor. So, instead of writing and then looking back at your writing, you write steadily without checking back at what you wrote. The unsaid rule in this type of exercise is to keep your hand moving, continuously writing without stopping for a set period of time.

A good time limit for your first try is three minutes, and then you can move up to five minutes or longer. Set a timer and alarm for your exercise, and take the rules seriously. It is not easy to take the rules seriously when you write such crazy stuff—and you will write crazy stuff.

Many famous writers have used this method of writing to get out of writer’s block, to gather new ideas, to have fun, and even to see their psychological state. The spontaneity of continuously writing for a set period of time puts your mind into an altered dimension.

Here are some ways you can use your automatic writing:

1. Look through what you wrote and find the most interesting parts. Then compose:

  • a poem or song using certain phrases from it
  • a short story or novel using some ideas from it
  • an essay based on some ideas from it

2. Whenever you have stared at a blank page for too long, do some automatic writing to break away from your block.

3. Gather a group of friends and do some automatic writing together. Each friend can share his or her automatic writing with the group. It is intriguing, hilarious, and strange to listen to other peoples’ automatic writing.