Trance Writing – what is it? Does it work? How easy is it to induce a trance? How can I tell if I am really hypnotized? What can I hope to get out of it?
Trance Writing, or Automatic Writing as it is sometimes called, is the conscious mind’s deliberate intention to relinquish control of the writing process and allow the subconscious, or subliminal, part of the brain to temporarily take over.
When attempting to achieve the hypnogogic state for the first time, it is common to feel that you are “making it up” or somehow “faking it.” A familiar voice inside your head will tell you, “What a waste of time. I can’t do this. I’m not making any sense.” This is a normal reaction that will usually subside once you let go of your Inner Critic and allow the words to flow spontaneously from your intuitive, deeper awareness without stopping to edit, revise or rewrite. What you are aiming for is a relaxed stream-of-consciousness. For now, ditch the hyper-critical internal editor and give yourself permission to write garbage.
You may at first think you are simply churning out meaningless nonsense and in fact, it may take a period of word-association, repetition, and/or several pages of rubbish, drivel, balderdash, and gobbledygook before something “clicks” and you suddenly find yourself in a frenzy of creativity.
The trick is to keep writing without looking at what you are putting down on the page. You will be allowed all the time you need later to edit and revise. During the exercise, however, you must not pause to consider things like grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary, style, redundancies or punctuation. Those are elements that belong to the realm of the linear, Left Brain.
The Right Brain is primarily concerned with images, metaphors, and symbols. You may discover insights and connections between thoughts, feelings, ideas, and words your Conscious Self would never have considered. The more often you practice turning off your Left Brain in favor of giving your Right Brain the freedom to explore alternative realities, the easier it will be to achieve a so-called “trance” state. You will begin to look forward to these sessions and find that they often provide the perfect antidote to those frustrating periods of “writer’s block” we all find ourselves up against from time to time.
To prepare for a session of Trance Writing, clear your workspace of clutter, unfinished projects, and other distractions. You may find it useful to relax your body and your mind with some deep breathing before you begin writing. Be sure to drink plenty of water – not coffee, tea, soda, or (Heaven forbid!) alcohol. Disconnect your phone and turn off any pop-up notifications from Social Media, etc. You may further stimulate the appropriate ambiance by listening to relaxing instrumental music, or for the truly adventurous, try searching YouTube for audio recordings of brainwave entrainment sessions designed to induce altered states of consciousness.
I often begin my Automatic Writing with several of my own induction phrases, such as:
“I am relaxed, motivated, and ready to write.”
“I am open to the process.”
“I allow words and ideas to emerge spontaneously from the deeper recesses of my imagination.”
“Words flow from me easily and effortlessly.”
“As I tune into my subconscious, images and metaphors naturally spring from my mind and pour out across the page.”
“I give myself permission to write the first thing that comes into my mind, even if I don’t yet understand the meaning.”
“I trust that whatever bubbles to the surface will ultimately make sense.”
“My imagination provides me with images, words, phrases, and associations. I describe what I see without judgment.”
“I write eloquently, freely, gracefully, and poetically.”
Another trick for getting started is to begin by posing a question to your Higher Self or to your Inner Muse, however you wish to imagine the usually hidden part of your consciousness. Take a few moments to formulate a concise question which specifies in as much detail as possible your conflict or difficulty.
“What is the clearest path forward to release my fear as a writer and overcome my writer’s block?”
“I have introduced my characters, set the stage, and defined the primary challenge facing the hero. Where do I go from here?”
“I have a great battle scene ahead and don’t have the slightest idea how to write it. I call upon the creativity of my Inner Storyteller to guide me step-by-step to create a dramatic, believable scene.”
“I seek ideas for how to resolve the final climax of my novel in satisfying ways that will keep the reader enthralled until the end and leave her wanting more.”
You may also want to pose specific questions directly to your characters and allow them to answer using their own unique voices. The interviews can yield surprising results and may take your story in directions you had not forseen.
Good Luck! Please feel free to post your experiences in Comments.
In addition, if you have used Trance Writing in the past, share with other members what the exercise was like for you.