I recently came across a post on my Flipboard about a process called “Vomit Writing“. I’m a huge fan of crime shows, and the ID Network, so the title did not deter me. Intrigued, I read the post and found it was just what I needed!
To begin, the post provided an interesting concept I hadn’t heard previously. The author kept things (moderately) classy and gave plenty of examples. She also provided plenty of reassurance that it was OK to “not be perfect”. This was a concept I often struggle with in writing, mostly because of my past.
In the past, I used to edit other people’s work. It is, therefore, no surprise that I also edit my own writing…a lot. Just one of the many reasons my novel has taken over two years to complete. I’m aware of the writing community’s stance on editing during the writing phase, but I couldn’t resist! After all, it is something that comes naturally. That’s why this particular article seemed to speak to me.
The concept of Vomit Writing is exactly as it sounds – get everything out so you feel better. That means, you write and write until
your gut hurts and you’re left crying by the side of the toilet as you swear you will never drink that much again you feel you have exhausted all of the writing ideas you had for that writing session. There’s no editing. No going back to re-write “just one thing”. The idea is to do nothing that will interfere with the natural process of thinking and getting it down on paper.
Sounds great but, can it help change the bad habits of a stubborn editor?
Over the weekend I went to my favorite library for a day of non-stop writing (another post, another time). After an hour I noticed that I was still on my first paragraph! I had once again fallen into the editing, re-editing and re-re-editing trap! My day of productive writing was going to be wasted if I didn’t do something.
It was time to stop the madness. I opened up a new text sheet and decided to (figuratively) vomit all over it.
I put it all on the page. Whatever idea came to mind, I wrote it down. It was difficult, but I didn’t edit or revise anything. Instead of correcting, I used the notes section (in Scrivener) to keep track of changes. And you know what happened? IT WORKED!
That day, I spent six hours at the library. The majority of that time, I was just writing!
Check out my vomit writing results for that day:
- I completed two full chapters.
- Additionally, I developed a new direction for the story.
- I re-introduced a previously overlooked scene.
- Notes, notes and more notes!
- And finally, I was able to move the project out of “stalled” status.
And, the best part was, it all happened naturally!
Like any journey, this novel project is likely to have successes and failures. The vomit method happened to be what I needed this time around. I’m bound to find new techniques on this journey, after all, writing advice is as abundant as porn – and I’ve seen a lot of both.