Analyze Your Brain Vomit

Long ago, before my friends got married and had children or graduated and moved away, we’d have brainstorming sessions. We’d slap up a few whiteboards and we’d write down every idea that was uttered. At that point, no idea was discounted. When we ran out of ideas we’d start challenging the ideas written down on the whiteboard. Every idea that got shot down was erased from the board.

This process served a couple of purposes. It encouraged the generation of new ideas and it kept us focused by allowing discussion only on the ideas that survived the challenge process. We called the collected ideas ‘brain vomit’.

Yesterday I was reading an untitled research paper written by someone known only as M.L. in which a process for tracking ‘thought patterns’ was described. The idea is to simply start with a word, phrase, name or concept and to write down all subsequent thoughts until your mind returns to a previous thought or you run out of thoughts. In the second paragraph, M.L. states, “don’t force any thoughts, just let your mind vomit them up and record it’.

Perform that process three times a day. Continue that regimen for a week, or a month or longer, and then analyze those thought strings. See if patterns present themselves or if latent thoughts become apparent.

So, from yesterday’s Brain Vomit journal, a glimpse into my thoughts:

We were having a discussion about exactly where a certain river ran and I stopped to write in the journal-

…a river runs through it – Brad Pitt was in that – Pitt looked like a young Paul Newman – when my grandfather was young he looked like Paul Newman – my mom’s dad was an asshole – assholes aren’t bad it’s all the shit around them – who coined that? – phrase origins are hard to determine – takeourword won’t have it listed – how many words are there for shit? – Inuits have lots of words for snow – do Arabs have lots of words for sand? – check the meaning of tingo (book) – shit, what does tingo mean? –

At that point I had to stop and walk over to a bookshelf and look for The Meaning of Tingo, by Adam Jacot de Boinod.

Tingo, by the way, is a Pascuense word from Easter Island which means “to take all the objects one desires from the house of a friend, one at a time, by borrowing them all”.

I highly suggest analyzing your brain vomit. If you’re feeling adventurous, share your brain vomit. It’s amazing how the mind wanders and how connections are made.


  1. Rafa

    I remember those days through bongwater-tinted glasses. Editing Rats in the Cellar and breathing banana oil fumes while Liz and Tori were airbrushing tins in the Cave.

    I also remember the “true test of an idea is whether it survives the hangover.” Most of them didn’t and I wish some of the ones that did survive wouldn’t have. Night of the Beer Pig was great but how long were we broke after tht? I got so sick of mac-n-cheese and Schaefer beer.

  2. I had to go look up the meaning of the word Pascuense

  3. DG

    Five of the eleven books on my desk are dictionaries. Odd little specialized dictionaries like, The Meaning Of Tingo and The Gilded Tongue. I am constantly looking up words.

  4. Rafa

    Don’t worry about it Graywolf, I think he looks up words just to try to force other people to look up words. Anyone that reads a dictionary like normal people read a book should be examined by a professional.

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