Tricks of the Trade: Automatic Writing ( or Typing)
A Technique for Creating Articles, Blogs and eBooks Quickly and Easily
by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.
There's an old study in psychic sciences called "automatic writing." It means that you sit down with pen in hand and wait to be inspired to write something -- but the belief is that you are "channeling" the writing of some other person, usually a dead one. Some also have tried the method as an instrument of telepathy.
No. That's not the "automatic writing" I'm talking about here. Nor am I speaking of the Freudian therapeutic technique. I'm talking about using the technique as a practical tool for eliciting your own knowledge and creativity that you often can't get consciously on demand. Here's what you do:
You still sit down with pen in hand or at the computer keyboard. But you don't wait to be inspired. You just start typing "stream of consciousness" about any topic you want to write about and let the words come. You don't censor anything.
It's a form of brainstorming.
You can write (type) in any format you wish. You can write a list and fill it in. You can write arbitrary paragraphs and rearrange them later. You just sit and write. (Or if you are concerned about the latest studies in the harmful effects of too much sitting, you can stand and write.)
Occasionally, you'll write garbage. Most of the time, you'll get at least a blog post or short article out of it. You are simply tapping into your unconscious. There's lots of information there. It's organized in strange and wonderful ways. It's not always easy to find. But if you relax and let the words flow, you'll find a small spring can turn into a rushing river.
The method works very well when you are feeling stuck or out of ideas. At those times you are usually trying too hard. It's merely a matter of letting go of the stress and worry that are blocking your knowledge and expertise.
An added strategy when you are trying out automatic writing: Start by thinking of a story or anecdote. You can even use someone else's fiction, like an Aesop's fable. Just start writing about that story. Interpret the story and its moral for your audience. Many writers use Bible stories to get themselves writing self-improvement or motivational articles. Zen stories are another source.
The important point is that you start writing about something and keeping going until the words stop coming. You can edit later. Don't worry about grammar, spelling, format or order of ideas.
I've also seen this process done well as a partner or group project. Each person starts writing on the same topic, on the clock. That is, someone sets a timer and everyone writes stream-of-consciousness until the bell rings. Then, the participating writers merge their efforts into a final edited product. When it's done in a group, it can be very entertaining. I've almost fallen off my chair laughing.
A final feature that you'll simply love is this -- interruptions don't break your concentration. There is no concentration. Your mind just flows around the interruption like water around rocks in the stream.
Try it. There are few people who don't like it.