When it comes to word vomiting, I’m a dismal failure. I’m referring to the first step of the writing process. The just-get-the-story-down step, in which the goal is putting words on the page, and nothing else.
I love the notion of word vomiting, and all the lovely images it conjures. I started thinking more about the concept after reading Veronica Roth’s description of her writing process. The author of the wildly popular Divergent trilogy details her approach in “Writing Tips from Veronica Roth” (Bonus Materials, book one):
Stage One: Word Vomit…Just write. Do not reread what you’ve just written…Don’t do it! You will be tempted to edit, and editing before you finish the draft is the enemy of the writing process.
I know she’s right. And she’s not the only writer who believes in this technique. There are a lot of best selling authors who advocate word vomiting.
One of my personal favorites, Jodi Picoult, writes: when you finally start to write something, do not let yourself stop…even when you are convinced it’s the worst garbage ever…force yourself to finish what you began, and THEN go back and edit it.
And the wonderful John Green: I just give myself permission to suck. I delete about 90% of my first drafts…I find this hugely liberating.
I WISH I could give myself permission to suck, but I don’t know how! I continually go back to reread and edit, even in a first draft. As a result, writing that first draft takes forever. And, by the way, it still sucks!
Going forward, I need to make this a writing goal. I need to get that first draft out without slowing down to review, edit, and consult my thesaurus. Then I’ll put it away to let it simmer before I revise. Much easier said than done, I’m sure.
How well can you word vomit? Any tips to help a sister out?
Update: When I sat down to write this post, I challenged myself to word vomit my way through the first draft (yes, I write multiple drafts of my blog posts). Let me tell you, old habits die hard. My eyes slid upward several times to reread, but I made a conscious effort to keep going without looking back. And I did it. 400 words in record time. John Green was right. It’s liberating!
Maybe I can word vomit after all.