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Automatic writing is a form of psychic channelling whereby the alleged psychic takes a pen, scribbles with their eyes closed and then tries to read what they "wrote" in the scribbles. The "automatic" term comes from the fact that the psychic is supposed to be doing this all subconsciously and in a trance like state - enabling them to converse with the spirit world. It is often seen in two general forms; one where writing is vaguely legible and another that is mostly random scribbles.
 In writing
If the writing is legible, it's difficult to say whether the writing was done "automatically" or not. Like a psychic medium putting on a funky accent, it might be clear that the channeller is, in fact, consciously writing down what they - or their audience - want to see. As a psychic power, there has never been any confirmation that this works better than guessing the information the channeller has been asked for.
 In scribbles
Often automatic writing is "taught" by having students relax and let their pens wander over paper freely. This can be different to where legible writing is produced because most of the trick lies in the interpretation of the result after it is written. At least with legible writing there is something to read clearly, but with scribbles it may be a case of extreme pareidolia that provides the information content of the writing. In this case, it could be that the medium can be excused of fraud and deceit as rather than actively tricking people they are merely letting their audience see what they want to see.
Naturally, both of these forms of automatic writing can blend together. A performer can start with fairly basic and free flowing pen movements and gradually get far clearer writing as their "trance" deepens and their "connection" to the spiritual world increases. This can combine into an impressive and convincing performance that exploits all the usual tricks that mediums utilise to fool their audience.