Automatic Writing: Ultimate Guide for Beginners

Have you ever gotten so lost in your writing that it feels like your hand is possessed, flying across the page with a story you never planned? That, my friends, is a taste of automatic writing.

This guide is your one-stop shop for everything automatic writing.

We’ll go into what it is, explore its validity, and most importantly, equip you with the tools to embark on your own writing adventure.

What Is Automatic Writing?

You pick up a pen, quiet your mind, and let your hand write whatever pops into your subconscious. That’s the essence of automatic writing, also known as psychography. It’s a practice where you bypass your conscious mind and tap into a deeper well of creativity, intuition, or even hidden messages.

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Woman doing automatic writing by beach
I made this image — Woman doing auto writing by beach

The results can be surprising.

You might unearth forgotten memories, unleash a hidden story idea, or receive messages that seem to come from beyond yourself.

Some people even believe it’s a way to connect with spirits or their higher selves.

That’s why you might also hear someone refer to “spirit writing.”

Is Automatic Writing Real?

The “realness” of this type of writing depends on your perspective.

Skeptics believe it’s simply our subconscious playing tricks on us, weaving familiar words and themes into a seemingly mystical experience.

It’s ok to fall into the believer or skeptic camp.

But here’s the thing: regardless of the source, this form of writing can be a powerful tool for self-discovery, creative expression, and even problem-solving.

During auto writing, you become a conduit, allowing your inner voice free range.

Or perhaps you tap into a deeper well of inspiration, all with the end goal to flow freely onto the page.

How to Get Started With Automatic Writing? (Step-by-Step)

Ready to give auto writing a whirl? Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started:

  1. Find Your Sanctuary: Create a space dedicated to automatic writing. It can be a quiet corner of your room, a favorite park bench, or even a cozy coffee shop. The key is to feel comfortable and free from distractions. More on this in a moment.
  2. Prep Your Tools: Grab a pen that feels comfortable in your hand and a notebook you like. Some people prefer loose sheets of paper to avoid feeling confined by lines. I like to sit on floor with a yoga map or small rug.
  3. Set an Intention (Optional): While automatic writing thrives on spontaneity, you can set a loose intention for your session. Do you want to explore a specific character, a creative block, or just see where your subconscious takes you?
  4. Loosen Up: Take a few deep breaths, relax your shoulders, and quiet your mind. Meditation or light stretches can be helpful here.
  5. Start Writing: Put pen to paper and let it flow! Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or making sense. Just write whatever comes to mind, no matter how nonsensical it seems.

Pro Tip: If you find yourself getting stuck, try doodling, scribbling random lines, or repeating a mantra like “Let it flow” until your hand starts moving again.

Check out this video about starting an automatic (or auto writing) practice:

YouTube Video by The Wholeness Shift

Setting Up Your Writing Space (Room)

While psychography can be done anywhere, creating a dedicated space can enhance the experience.

Here are some tips that I find helpful:

  • Dim the lights: Soft lighting creates a calming atmosphere conducive to introspection.
  • Light some candles: The flickering flame and calming scent can add a touch of magic to your writing ritual.
  • Put on some calming music: Opt for instrumental music or nature sounds to gently guide your focus inwards.
  • Clear the clutter: A cluttered space can create mental clutter. Tidy up your writing area to allow for a clear flow of thoughts.

Automatic Writing Exercises

Sometimes, getting started with auto writing can be the hardest part.

Here are a few exercises to jumpstart your journey:

  • Automatic Doodling: Instead of words, let your pen create abstract shapes and doodles. See where it takes you and what emotions arise as you draw.
  • Automatic Poetry: Set a timer for five minutes and write whatever comes to mind, aiming for a poetic rhythm. Don’t worry about rhyming or structure, just let the words flow organically.
  • Automatic Storytelling: Pick a random object from your surroundings and use it as the starting point for an automatic story. Who owns this object? Where has it been? Let the details unfold on their own.

Automatic Writing Meditation

Auto writing can be a deeply meditative practice.

Here’s how to combine them:

  1. Sit comfortably: Find a quiet spot where you can sit upright with good posture.
  2. Gently close your eyes and take some long, calming breaths: Feel your tummy puff out as you breathe in, and sink back down as you breathe out.
  3. Set an intention (optional): As with automatic writing itself, you can set a loose intention for your meditation. Do you want to achieve inner peace, gain clarity on a situation, or simply connect with your subconscious?
  4. Body Scan (optional): Wiggle your toes, then feel your feet. Slowly scan upwards, noticing how your legs feel. Notice any areas of tension and consciously relax them.
  5. When you feel centered, open your eyes and pick up your pen: Begin writing whatever comes to mind. Trust that the meditation has primed your mind for a deeper exploration of your inner world.
  6. Write for 10-15 minutes: Don’t judge or analyze what you’re writing. Let your thoughts and feelings pour out onto the page like a flowing river.
  7. Gently come back to the present: When you’re finished writing, take a few moments to sit quietly, observing any lingering thoughts or emotions.

Pro Tip: You can record yourself reading your automatic writing aloud after your meditation session. Sometimes, hearing your words spoken back can offer fresh insights or spark new creative ideas.

Automatic Writing Prompts: Spark Your Inner Storyteller

Sometimes, even with the best intentions and a relaxed state of mind, getting those creative juices flowing during auto writing can be a challenge.

That’s where prompts come in.

These little nudges can spark your imagination and send your pen on a wild adventure across the page.

Here are 20 unique, creative, and mind-bending prompts to jumpstart your auto writing journey:

  1. The Object in the Mirror: Describe in detail the reflection staring back at you from a dusty antique mirror. What secrets does it hold?
  2. The Forgotten Letter: You discover a faded letter addressed to you in a hidden drawer. Who wrote it? What message does it hold from the past?
  3. The Talking Statue: While wandering through a deserted museum, a statue comes alive and begins to speak. What story does it tell?
  4. The Dream Door: You find a doorway in your dreams that leads to a world unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Describe this fantastical land in vivid detail.
  5. The Last Conversation: Write a dialogue between you and your future self. What advice do they offer? What regrets do they reveal?
  6. The Mysterious Recipe: You discover an ancient recipe with cryptic ingredients. What fantastical dish does it create? What happens when you eat it?
  7. The Time Capsule: You unearth a time capsule buried in your backyard. What does it reveal about the past and what message does it hold for the future?
  8. The Color of Emotions: Assign a color to each of your emotions (joy, anger, sadness, etc.). Now, write a story where the world is painted in these emotional hues.
  9. The Shapeshifting House: Your house transforms overnight. Every room takes on a new shape and function. Describe the bizarre and wonderful changes.
  10. The Whispering Wind: The wind carries a faint whisper through your window. What message does it convey? Write a story from the perspective of the wind.
  11. The Sentient Book: You pick up an old book at a flea market and realize it’s sentient. What tale does it yearn to tell?
  12. The Dream Thief: You discover you have the ability to steal dreams. Describe a dream you steal and the impact it has on the dreamer.
  13. The Parallel You: You stumble upon a portal leading to a parallel universe where everything is the opposite. Describe your encounter with your doppelganger.
  14. The Animal Parliament: Animals from around the world gather to hold a parliament. What issues do they discuss? What solutions do they propose?
  15. The Last Day on Earth: Describe your final day on a doomed planet. What do you do? Who do you spend it with?
  16. The Object with a Past: Pick an ordinary object from your room (a pen, a lamp) and imbue it with a rich history. Write a story from the object’s perspective.
  17. The Song of the Stars: Imagine stars have their own language. Translate the twinkling constellation above your window into a song or poem.
  18. The Museum of Memories: You visit a museum dedicated to forgotten memories. Describe the peculiar exhibits and the emotions they evoke.
  19. The Sentient City: The city you live in becomes sentient overnight. How does it interact with the residents? What are its desires and fears?
  20. The Swap: You wake up one morning to find your body swapped with someone else’s. Describe the challenges and opportunities this presents.

How to Maximize Your Automatic Writing Experience (Music, Scents, etc)

The beauty of auto writing is its adaptability.

Here are some ways to personalize your experience:

  • Music: Upbeat music can energize your writing, while calming melodies can lull you into a more meditative state. Experiment and see what works for you.
  • Scents: Light some aromatherapy candles or incense with scents like lavender (relaxing), peppermint (focus), or sandalwood (grounding) to set the mood.
  • Crystals: Some people believe crystals can enhance their automatic writing sessions. Amethyst is said to promote intuition, while clear quartz is believed to amplify intention.

Remember: There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to auto writing. Experiment with different techniques, find what resonates with you, and have fun with the process.

Automatic Writing FAQs (Troubleshooting Common Challenges)

Here are some answers to commonly encountered challenges with auto writing:

  • My mind is blank: Don’t force it. Take a few deep breaths, doodle some lines, or try a different prompt. Sometimes, a short break can do wonders.
  • My writing is all gibberish: Embrace the gibberish. It might hold hidden meanings you can decipher later.
  • I keep getting stuck on the same thought: Gently acknowledge the thought and move on. You can always circle back to it later if it feels important.
  • I can’t seem to turn my brain off: That’s okay. Automatic writing isn’t about achieving a perfect state of Zen. Just keep writing and see where your conscious mind takes you.

Final Thoughts

Most importantly, trust the process.

Automatic writing is a journey of self-discovery, and the most valuable lessons often emerge from the unexpected turns and twists along the way. So, grab your pen, embrace the unknown, and happy writing!

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