Random Inspirations

Welcome to my blog, full of fun inspirations and insights on writing, self-publishing, and more!

Why Writing is Like Cooking: Make Your Words Tasty

on June 27, 2013

Last week on my flight, I was reading Simple and Delicious, my favorite cooking magazine.  It’s packed with colorful recipes that are healthy, scrumptious, and relatively quick to prepare. After that, I started reading a book about self-editing for fiction writers, dozed off for a nap, and woke up thinking about how similar writing is to cooking. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where the saying, “Sleep on it,” came from. 🙂

But, as random as the connection sounds, it makes sense; in order to master both cooking and writing, you have to practice the basics. A lot. Of course, there’s culinary school for chefs (or the occasional cooking class for the rest of us). Chefs have to spend hours learning the easy recipes verbatim. As they gradually hone their art, they discover which herbs taste best with which dishes and learn to create a rich tapestry of flavors. They experiment with colors, textures, and spices to optimize each dish, and their signature recipes evolve gradually. The best chefs are a combination of exquisitely trained and self-taught — thorough training ensures they’ve mastered the basics, while their willingness to self-teach ensures their cooking will be unique and creative. And that’s tasty.

cooking

Many authors think of writing as “a calling.” I know I’m that way — I’ve always had to write, and it comes naturally to me. We learn the basics of writing throughout our K-12 education, and continue into college to some degree.

But to take writing to the next level (i.e. professional), there’s still a lot of additional education. We must take professional creative writing courses, learn from experts at conferences, and have our work critiqued by those more experienced than ourselves. It seems daunting, especially for people who, like myself, assumed they knew everything about writing because it always came so naturally.

I think for most of us, there’s that period of self-doubt, where you say to yourself, “Whoa. I’m not as good as I originally thought.” But really, what we’re telling ourselves is, “I just have to hone my art.” And that positive spin does wonders. After all, what is life in general if not a learning experience?

And as we practice our craft, we can experiment with our story lines, descriptions, and characters. We use words much like chefs use spices, tossing them around in a way that might seem haphazard to a casual observer, but is truly methodical and deliberate. We use literary devices to create our own unique flavor, which we hope will satiate our readers.

And the last similarity between cooking and writing is that both activities are constantly evolving. After we learn the basics and grow into our own styles, we may think we’ve arrived, but we haven’t. If we’re content to stay the same, we’ll stagnate. That’s why it’s so important to stay hungry for knowledge, no matter what your field. And that’s scrumptious. 🙂

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