The Benefit of Vomiting on A Page

“Everyone be quiet I’m trying to vomit.” My daughter Pam announced in an irritated voice.

She wasn’t physically trying to vomit.  Rather she was getting her thoughts all down on paper for a college speech class. Pam has adopted that term from hearing her mother use it.

Vomiting on the paper is an effective writing technique. It’s pre- rough draft, a mingling of thoughts and tidbits that are floating around in our heads. Getting them out of our heads can have the same result as vomiting. You feel better when you do.

The Value of Vomiting

Once the words are laying there on the computer screen all disemboweled from my brain, then the clean up begins. Sometimes it is simply pressing the delete button because the idea isn’t good. More often there are words and phrases, perhaps whole paragraphs that are gems. Those are left on the page and the rest cut.  Some phrases are pasted to different paragraphs until the vomited mess resembles something intelligent. What remains is the beginning of the real editing and creating.

Good for Writer’s Block

Until the words are gotten out on the page, writers often stay blocked.  I find vomiting words as one of the best ways to get started. An idea is roaming around in my head. I have ruminated on it for hours or days and can’t think of how to express it. If I just write, letting the words flow no matter the grammar or word tense, letting the typos stand as I get the words from my mind to the page; the creative juices begin to flow. When I go back and read aloud what I have written, I discover the nugget of thought that sets my mind on a clear path to what I want to express.

Some people refer to this as rambling or emptying their mind. It doesn’t matter what you call it. The thing is to do it. The exercise of freeing your mind in this way jumps starts creativity.

Beware Divine Vomit

The tricky part is to be sure you have totally cleaned up the vomit and have a nice clean piece of work remaining before you send it out for publication. Sometimes we mistake vomit for inspiration because it all comes flowing out on the paper so easily. Don’t deceive yourself into thinking your vomit  is  a piece of divine revelation or creative genius—that the words are so inspired they need not be improved upon.  Sadly, I have done that a few times.  Divine vomit needs cleaning up just as much as the ordinary kind. Honestly, who likes vomit?

Why Bother With Vomiting?

Why not wait until I have a clear thought in my head? Why not do an outline first? Why not? For me, if I waited until I had a clear thought in my head, it would be days before I set my thoughts to paper. Or when the clarity came, I would often be in the middle of my day job. If you have the time and opportunity to always work that way, good for you. As far as outlines go, I sometimes need to vomit my words before I can even do an outline. Throwing up all over the paper may create more than one outline to create articles from different angles.

Daily Exercise of Spewing

This method of spewing words on a page can be a daily exercise for freeing the mind before I do more serious writing. If my goal is to edit a chapter and my mind has prayer needs in my head, I write  my prayer, letting my mind wander to other prayer requests. After  I have released all the concerns to the Lord on paper, I am ready to tackle that rewrite.  If my mind has other writing things calling to me. I jot down that story idea or devotional tidbit, removing from my mind the distracting thoughts that haunt me while I am trying to finish the project before me.

Other benefit

The benefit of spewing those initial thoughts is reaching my goal of writing something every day. If  I waited for an assignment or inspiration to write, I find it too easy to neglect writing.  Spewing out words helps me develop a daily discipline of writing. Again, I often find gems when I do.

Do you ever vomit on a page? When and how do you use this technique?

Travel Gives A Writer Lots of Material

Recently I returned from a three week mission trip in the Philippines. My husband, Charley and I traveled to both the islands of Luzon and Mindanao visiting various churches and schools. During that time we accumulated over 300 photos, two hours of video and 18 days of blog posts totaling over 6000 words. All of which needed to be condensed down to smaller bites of information. Each piece of information served a different purpose and has to be presented differently.

  • Article for my workplace newsletter
  • Script for Power Point presentation at church
  • Updating information on a website for the foundation that sponsored the trip
  • Articles on what we shared from the Bible
  • Devotionals from experiences
  • Script for Power Point for Foundation board
  • Other Miscellaneous article for various magazines and websites

Each writing project has its own take away value and expectations.

The article for my workplace newsletter is devoid of what we spoke on during ministry at the churches we visited. Instead it covers the differences in culture and our school visits. Descriptions of their homes and lifestyles was the main thrust of the article. I submitted only four pictures to complement the text.

Transcribing sermons and Bible training into devotionals and Bible Study articles takes time.  The spoken word has to be tweaked for an article. A sermon never reads well in its original form. The body language that is used for emphasis isn’t there.

I did interviews with various Filipino board members that will appear on the foundation website. A Power Point  with narrative of our trip will be added to the website drawing from both the cultural and spiritual aspects and adding more details of the physical needs of the people.

Our Power Point for the foundation board will cover the goals we accomplished as they relate to the foundation. While the Power Point for the churches will be filled with stories of the people and what God did in their lives.

Not just a Travel Article

All of this information can fuel many articles from devotionals to travel to children’s stories. There were many laughable moments as well as ones that brought us to tears. Some are stand alone experiences with deep spiritual significance. Others are those Ah ha moments that made me understand why I was there.

Needing Time to Process

At trip’s end I was over whelmed by the enormous amount of information we had accumulated. It has taken me a few weeks to boil it all down in my mind. Now I am ready to write.  Waiting to write gives me that hindsight perspective of what the really important elements of my adventure were and how I want to share them. It also gives me time to research publications to submit articles with a take away that best suits their needs.

What kind of articles do you write from your travel experiences? How do you go about it?

FINDING VALUE IN WRITING CONTESTS

There is always an ongoing debate about writing contests. What is the point of entering my work in contests? Does entering contests jeopardize my copyrights? What value is there in contest anyway?
I recently entered two contests.
The first was an essay contest that will soon be announcing a winner. There was the option to enter the free contest or submit a $5 entry fee. It required an essay under 500 words. Winning that would pad my writing resume—get my name out there. Even placing has value. Either could lead to other writing assignments.
The second was a contest that promised a full scholarship to a writers weekend as first prize.. I had to submit the first page of my novel. A critique was promised for all entries. A best-selling novelist with years of experience sent my page back with lots of red ink. The red ink would have cost me a pretty penny if I would have paid for his services. The insights I received were priceless. So a free contest reaped a free critique. That has value.
You have to decide if what the contest offers is of value to you.
• Publication of your piece. Short story or novel.
• Cash reward
• Free books
• Interviews or other publicity
• Free stuff
Do the research to discover if the contest is reputable
Any reputable contest will protect your copyright by deleting your entry if it does not win. Reputable contests have judges who have published or work in the publishing field. Google the judges to find out their credentials and the contest for feedback. There is sure to be some comment stream about any given contest. If you are uncomfortable paying fees to enter, then find the free ones. I will say that if there is a fee you are probably going to have judges with more expertise, and there is more opportunity for a critique. If you win, the prize and accolades will be better, as well.
Google It
I did a short goggle search and found a few contests I thought might be interesting to enter. There are tons to choose from; these are examples of different types of contests:

  • http://www.midlifecollage.com has contest for older writers. Check out what the theme is for their latest contests. These entries are longer and require more time to prepare.
  • http://www.wurdzl.com is sponsored by Amazon. First prize is a Kindle. Winning is based on the number of votes you get.
  • http://www.funstory.com has contests and opportunities to get your pieces read and commented on. Again the more comments—the more points—the more chances to win. I am unsure how copyright works with this site.
  • http://www.writerdigest.com has ongoing contests. Some are less than 25 words, others are longer. Check out the site, and see what’s there. Writer’s Digest is a reputable website. They provide lots of help for writers. I entered one of their shorter contests while perusing the site. We will see what comes of it.

Do your research, and discover which contests have value for you.
What has your experience been with writing contests? Are there any you would recommend?

Writers Time Can Be Robbed

Today I realized I have not posted to this blog since July. It takes time to compose and revise, edit and post. Time that can get robbed so easily.
My first thought was what have I done with my writing timer since July. Had I wasted it?
Let’s see.

  • I spent a lot of time revising the first three chapters of my novel to submit to interested parties.
  • I worked on some article and put together Bible study material to share on my trip to the Philippines in October.
  • Entered a writing contest.
  • Submitted some articles.
  • I helped write content for a website and brochures.
  • I blogged everyday on Hope Fellowship Outreach Facebook page while in the Philippines.
  • Came home to write some articles about my trip.
  • Prepare some guest blogs for Write It Sideways.

Phew!!! Glad to see I did write.

Life changes can rob writing time

My life has been turned upside down this year. My parents moved near me after living in Florida over 30 years. They need family help at this point in their lives. I spend part of the time I had relegated for writing on my days off with my parents. That means I have to prioritize my writing tasks. Unfortunately. I have come to the conclusion that I really need to work on that. I have missed blogging and doing interviews for this blog. I plan to put it back in my busy schedule.
So, readers look to see more posts in the future
What keeps you from writing everyday? What life changes have interrupted you?