Automatic Writing

Automatic writing is one of my favorite creativity exercises, an excellent tool for getting unstuck but, even more it is a wonderful method to practice to keep your creative flow going and growing. If you are in need of inspiring creativity, this is a great practice to incorporate into your daily habits.

Here is how it works:

When practicing this method of writing it is best to set a definite amount of time or quantity in pages that you will write. 10 minutes is a good starting point. Julia Cameron in her book The Artist Way recommends using three pages for a daily practice that she calls "morning pages". Use whatever limit you feel most drawn to or try them both out.

Once you begin writing, you don't stop for the entire time or pages. If you run out of things to write about, then you write "I'm out of things to write" or "nothing more to say" or even "this is a silly exercise". Repeat the phrase to keep writing until something else comes. It is important that you don't stop and think about what you are going to write which is a different kind of writing and even uses different parts of your brain. Pausing and thinking interrupts the stream of consciousness you are engaging.

Keep in mind that when you do the writing the purpose is to get you in process not to complete anything that is to be evaluated or judged. In fact, Cameron recommends that you don't even read what you have written in the beginning of using her morning pages practice. I agree that it can be useful to avoid reading the automatic writing early on in your practice, especially if, you have a strong inner critic.

A few more tips...

  • While you are writing, don't concern yourself with proper spelling, punctuation, upper or lower case or even complete sentences or thoughts. Whatever comes out is exactly what is supposed to happen.
  • The point is to get you moving, writing, loosening the clog, clearing the mental clutter. For this exercise, the process is the focus rather than the content.
  • Practicing automatic writing is a great way to get rid of writer's blocks, artist blocks or blocks in general. Using it at the time of the blocking as a remedy is fine but it is also excellent to incorporate it into your life as a regular habit to stay connected to your creative flow.

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