"Automatic writing" means writing without conscious control. Say you are watching TV or talking to a friend and your hand is moving across the page. It’s a tad more sophisticated than doodling.
Apparently Yeats’s wife could do this and he’d put her at it a few hours a day, asking her questions and letting her demon out on paper. This was of considerable help to him on many of his poems, particularly his most famous poem "The Second Coming."
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
I want to write like Yeats so I sat down at Starbucks Tuesday morning and stared out the window at the traffic and put my penned hand to paper and tried to open up to automatic writing. Nothing happened. So I let my handle just want over the page and all it produced was squibbles. I’m terribly disappointed. I will have to return to my carefully thought out screeds of pure reason (tempered by divine revelation).
Jeff emails: There is an equivalent in the Jewish tradition going way back to Abulafia, which is keeping a dream journal. Not one in which you recall your dreams in the morning, since by that point there