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Automatic writing

Automatic writing (also known as free writing) is the process of writing without thinking, usually with the intent of removing conscious barriers and inhibitions in the writer. Its use began in the spiritualism movement, but it was later adopted both as a creative and a psychotheraputic tool

Use in spiritualism

One of the most famous automatic writers was Helen Smith, an early 20th century psychic who claimed that her automatic writing was actually the attempt of Martians to communicate with Earth. Fortunately, she could translate Martian into French.

Use in stimulating creativity

The ideas of Helen Smith greatly influenced the Surrealist movement. The Surrealists dubbed her "The Muse of Automatic Writing"; in the surrealist deck of cards, Helen Smith is the "Genius of Knowledge." Automatic writing became a major part of the Surrealist's repertoire of games, and it soon developed into a number of other surrealist games that greatly influenced the movement, such as automatic drawing and a variety of marker-word games.

Free writing latterly gained popularity with writers and poets, both as a means of stimulating creative thought and as a technique for overcoming writer's block.

Use in therapy

Automatic writing is used as a tool in Freudian psychology and in related "self knowledge" studies, where it is seen as a means of gaining insight into the mind of the automatic writer through their subconscious word choices. In this context it is closely related to free association.

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