The Everyday Lore Project

4 February 2020 – Automatic Writing

4 February 2020 – Automatic Writing

Today I had my cynicism unexpectedly challenged. I had a go at automatic writing, the practice of channelling ‘something’ to guide your writing. This ‘something’ has been variously described as the unconscious, the soul, a spirit guide, angels and a result of the ideomotor effect (a muscle reflex, basically), and many others in between. 

Apart from faffing around with this at school (along with Ouija Boards, dowsing and poker), the closest I’ve come to automatic writing is the exercise where as soon as you wake up, you write down everything that comes into your head for twenty minutes. It’s supposed to free up your mind and give you prompts for proper writing later in the day. Every so often, I used to churn out reams of bollocks before breakfast, but then the lure of the lie in would return and I’d go back to hitting the snooze button. 

The premise is that automatic writing occurs when there is a psychic link between a guide and a scribe, with the subsequent text being the result of something other than the conscious mind of the writer. However the technique I used was based on asking questions from the guide, which I’m sure is a conscious act, but I went with it anyway. In order for the me to become open to my guide, I needed to get into the right mental state by first grounding myself, and then forming a protective energy shield around me. 

I decided to do this at my desk as this felt easiest. The book said to write for half an hour, so I set my timer, grounded and protected myself, popped a pad in front of me, cracked open an ink pen, started the clock and asked my first question. Unfortunately, I’d been listening to the radio just previously and More Than A Woman by the Bee Gees (what’s with the Bee Gees and psychic experiments?) was stuck in my brain and kept repeating for about the first twenty minutes. I say twenty minutes, I lost all track of time during this experiment as I couldn’t see the countdown and what felt like ten minutes turned out to be thirty. And after the alarm rang everything felt just a tiny bit bonkers, so instead of posting immediately, which had been the plan, I went and did the washing up.

So here are my slightly belated thoughts on my experience:

  • For reasons unknown my usual white gold energy shield started out black before segueing into a ruby red, and then into a glittering pink.
  • The book says to trust you’re in the presence of your spirit guide even if you’re not feeling it. I didn’t feel any kind of anything, and for the first couple of minutes, ink just bled into the paper as my guide kept shtum.
  • Then when it did pipe up, the answers were a bit repetitive and vague.
  • Then my writing got tiny, I mean so tiny the nib of my pen was incapable of handling it.
  • Then the Bee Gees began tuning out and the traffic and the clock ticks started tuning in.
  • That was when I thought I was on a ship as the ground started pitching.
  • Then my guide started to tell me to listen to the wind. A lot. 
  • Then my writing style morphed into that of a nine year old child’s for a bit.
  • I can’t remember the train of questions that resulted in a stream of Nos, but at one point I did ask my guide if it was fucking with me, and I drew a smiley faced emoji in response.
  • Next the desk felt like it was dissolving and I was falling.
  • And then after writing an A4 page of one worders and short line answers, I wrote half a page of continuous, legible, normal sized prose. And while it could have done with a bit more punctuation, it was quite clear and direct in its meaning.
  • The alarm went off just as I was writing ‘Well there you go then’.

I had been completely unprepared for me actually writing anything. I thought I would just be sitting there, getting bored and hoping for a conversation to start up underneath my window. I’ve also never been a fan of meditation, which is what this felt like, as I am a consummate fidgeter and the idea of sitting still is an anathema. But after the grounding and protecting I felt completely relaxed, like I’m asleep relaxed but with my eyes open. And I didn’t fidget at all, which was a huge surprise, instead I sat there rather lumpen and slab faced for the duration. And afterwards, I didn’t get that awful hangover I often struggle with post afternoon nap, and instead felt quite perky. So all in all, I think I might do this again. While nothing I wrote was remotely profound, or ground breaking to me, maybe the writing was the meditative equivalent of fidgeting and therefore allowed me to tune out for a bit. Or tune in. Well, there you go then 😊.


Struthers, J. (2007) The Psychic’s Bible, London, Octopus Publishing Group Ltd

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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