Automatic writing is a simple, fast, and effective way to reduce anxiety. Writing takes the anxious thoughts that are stuck circling in your deep emotional brain and moves them on through, allowing your cognitive brain to give you distance and perspective. Automatic writing doesn’t change the outside world, but it does change how you see it, and how you feel about it. And that makes all the difference.
So here it is – Automatic Writing in three easy steps.
Step One: Set it up.
- Find a private space to write, with no distractions or interruptions. Get some paper (I prefer unlined) and a pen that feels good in your hand.
- Set the clock for 20 minutes.
Step Two: Write it down.
- Write without stopping, for 20 minutes.
- No concern with how it looks, or how the sentences go together, or spelling. You only concern is moving those thoughts out from your brain and onto the paper.
- Write it all. Crazy stuff, mean stuff, bad stuff. The stuff you don’t want to even think about, let alone write. Write it down.
Step Three: Tear it up.
- OK, if you really want to, you can jot down some new ideas, or to-do lists, even affirmations that came to you. You can keep those, if you want.
- I have been known to tear it up and then burn it – a burnt offering to God, straight up to heaven.
- However you do it, it needs to go. Because frankly, good automatic writing would look crazy if someone saw it. (That’s how you know you did it right. It looks crazy.)
And that’s it. That’s all. Just those three steps. The research is clear, and so is experience. It makes a difference to your brain.
It won’t help if you just “think” the thoughts for 20 minutes. That will deepen the brain ruts and make it worse, actually. But if you write the thoughts down on paper, and then tear it up, your brain can use the opportunity to process and release.
More and more, every time you do it, you will move to a new place, with new thoughts and a new internal experience.
And way less anxiety.