There’s something about just unchaining your brain and letting stuff leak out. Don’t format it beyond making it readable, just let it all come out. Become an automaton whose guiding hand has gone absent. Let the output flow out. It does a little bit of good from time to time.

I first learned of Automatic Writing when I was about sixteen years old, not in an English class, but in a French Class. Our teacher was not only in it to teach us about the French language (most of which lays rusty and unused in the cellar of my mind) but also to give us a little insight into French culture. A lot of that was the arts, both visual and otherwise. Apparently there were a couple of French surrealists who dabbled in Automatic Writing, which, depending on who you asked, was either letting the subconscious come out to play in the written word or some external force acting upon a relaxed mind to send out messages in text. I’m thinking that the external side of things is probably not true – but overall, I have engaged in Automatic Writing from time to time as a result of a well rounded public education. The subconscious can sometimes give you keen insights into your own mind that are both terrifying and liberating. It’s often also extremely intimate and personal.  So much so that it is frequently inappropriate to even release such writings into the wild. I haven’t the streak of exhibitionism necessary (just enough to have a blog) to place it all out where people can see it.

But the process is simple enough for anyone to try. Pull out your preferred medium for writing, be that a notepad on your desktop, an actual notepad and a pen, whatever you need to relax and just start. It can just be scribbles if you have to start that way, or start with one word and see what chains onto it. There’s no need for punctuation, no grammar. Just write what comes to mind. Stop when the words do. Pushing out more than what’s being brought to the surface is planned writing. If you had to pause for more than a moment, the exercise is over.

automaton - scribbles
Though one could make the case that legibility is perhaps useful.

I find that on a word processing program I can bang out about 150-200 words before something switches me back to conscious thought. But, with practice you can go a lot longer and you can pluck out a few gems here and there that you can then place in conscious work. All fodder for the work.

Being an automaton doesn’t have to be all bad after all.

About the author: Maurice

Maurice Hopkins is an author, illustrator, blogger and part-time columnist for He is easily bribed with publishing offers, experience points, and diabetic-friendly cookies.