Saturday, August 6, 2011

Not so automatic automatic writing exercise

(abridged, pp. 5-7)
by Thomas Lux

1. Write without stopping for a set period of time or until you reach a certain predetermined point on the page. Keep it short, particularly at the beginning: 5 - 7 minutes per exercise, a page maximum.
2. Do not read it. Put it away.
3. Do for several days until you get at least ten pages. Gradually lengthen time for each exercise but never more than 20 minutes.
4. Read through them all and underline anything that seems interesting, fresh, weird, reverberant. Trust your instincts. If you have followed the above rules, you will not even remember having written most of it.
5. Pull out these underlined fragments. Correct spelling, punctuation, etc. Type them double-spaced so you'll have room to make hand-written revisions. Number the fragments.
6. Repeat rules 4 and 5, this time being a harder editor regarding what is truly interesting, loaded, fresh, etc. Change, add to, or cut words from fragments, listening to them a little for what they might be suggesting, where they might be trying to lead you.
7. Read them, listen to them: somehow numbers 1, 4, 7, 9, for example, will seem to belong together, be thematically/emotionally linked. Some might not seem to be connected to others but might seem to contain some seed of a poem, a title, a rhythm, etc. Some might be just beautiful, enigmatic orphans.
8. Put the fragments that seem to belong together on a page and use them as psychic notes to a poem. Make the conscious connections, put all the sweat in, do whatever work necessary to write a poem.

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