A slight detour from our usually scheduled programming, here. As mentioned in the previous exercise, I thought that sitting down for automatic writing with a clear target in mind worked against the principle of tapping into the unconscious. With that said, I spiced it up a bit.

So, for my own exercise, I took a day. For twelve hours, on the hour, I wrote five minutes of uninterrupted automatic writing. No targets, no intentions, just going with whatever was in my head at that moment. I thought that this would introduce more variance, taking us through the dream-like stage of just waking up to the day-to-day humdrum later on.

Then, upon reflecting on the automatic writing I had done each hour, I took what I believed to be an interesting launching point for a poem which I had scribbled down and developed it into a full draft. Below, find two examples of the automatic writing as well as the draft of this poem: ‘Bookstagram’.


Exercise Eleven, Part Two: 12 Hour Automatico


Freedom unleashed: in theory at least. I remember now the words I swore to remember last night. I remember their existence, but not their forms. Unsubscribed they are now lost in unconscious, and it’s a shame because those words were a new poetic source. Man Enough. The concept of societal pressures on males to act strong. Boys will be boys. Boys will run from their mothers and smoke cigarettes behind bike sheds. Boys will perturb police. Boys will do anything to remain one of the boys. Boys will wander streets at night, drunk or high, aware or not. Boys will be boys. Boys will never be men.


word association: lemon. lemonade. aid. AIDS crisis. housing. Theresa. mother. goose. gosling. Germaine Greer. greener pastures. past your bedtime. bedtime story. story makers. make the most of it. IT. it is what it is. I am what I am. I am, I am, I am Superman. Man on the Moon. Moonraker. raper. Charles II. second amendment. seconded. seconded. subpoena. submarine. mammal. fish. human. human. human.


When I read a book,
I’m not always in lingerie,
and the pages aren’t placed
in my crotch.


When I read a book,
it isn’t by a typewriter,
covered in sea-shells
or propped up in a bush.


When I read a book,
I don’t always drink tea,
and if I did,
it would always have steam.


When I read a book…
when I read a book…
when I read a book…
I read a book.



For me, this adaptation on Cowan’s exercise proves much more fruitful. Seeing where your unconscious will take you is part of the appeal of automatic writing, as well as getting ideas down on the page. Furthermore, by doing it every hour I was able to see how the day impacted my own thoughts. ‘Bookstagram’, unsurprisingly, came about whilst I was browsing posts on Instagram.

Having now completed this exercise I am unafraid to tweak Cowan’s exercises to my own ends. I’m not sure if that was the intention of this series of posts, or of Cowan’s work, but we have now reached autonomy.


Next: First things.

Missed a post? Catch up here.