Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Monday, April 26, 2010

Writing & Toll House

This past week, I was baking some Toll House cookies when it occurred to me that baking and writing have a lot in common. You are probably thinking, “Baking and writing don’t have anything in common.” I beg to differ.

When you bake, the first thing you do is make a plan. Do you have the right recipe? Do you have all the ingredients? Do you have the pans and implements like mixers and spatulas? Now I realize that not everyone is quite as detail oriented as I am. You may be more like Pantster and just cook up any old thing that springs to mind, but my style of baking is much like my style of writing--I need a plan. How are the hero and heroine going to meet? When do they kiss for the first time? How are they going to get to Happily Ever After?

I also noticed that I had to keep adjusting things as I baked. The longer I baked, the hotter the oven became, so my later batches cooked more quickly. That meant I had to reduce the temperature, but then the cookies didn’t spread out into the desired perfect lovely circles. As a result, the cookies were too fat in the middle, so I began to drop the dough into smaller mounds, hoping my cookies would spread more.

This went on batch after batch, until I finally produced a
pan of cookies that were absolutely PERFECT!!
My careful experimentation meant that
subsequent batches could also be perfect because
I knew exactly what to do to achieve the desired effect.
Success was so sweet!!

This process isn't so different from the one Pantster and I use to get a scene just right. We swap files back and forth, talk on the phone, use our thesauruses, adjust, and edit until we feel that our work is perfect! Much like my cookie baking success, the feeling of getting my writing just right is so sweet!!

The baking and writing process comparison caught me a bit off guard. It made me realize, perhaps for the first time, that I am a real writer. I look at everything I do from a writer's perspective. Can it apply or be used in my writing? Or in this case, how does the process compare?

When was the first time you felt like a real writer?


  1. Not to ignore your question, but I had to laugh at your cooking analogy. I am a panster, and just the other night I ditched a 'recipe' because I realized that it didn't look or smell like anything my family would eat. So I just turned to my cabinets and refrigerator and began cooking by the seat of my spatula. What would spice it up? What would give it that great meaty flavor? By the time I was finished it was nothing like what I'd set out to cook, but they loved it and ate every bit of it. I may not ever cook exactly the same thing again, but I know that if I don't have the exact ingredient that a recipe calls for, I can still cook from the heart and turn out something that is well received. Much like writing!!

  2. Cathy,

    You're playing my song.

  3. Ask anyone. I LOVE chocolate chip cookies. Hmmm... Now I want to go home and bake some.

    What was the question? LOL! Yeah, baking is a lot like writing. When did I feel like I knew how to bake? The moment someone ate something I'd cooked and told me they thought it was deicious. ;). I guess you could say the same about my writing. The first time I really felt like a writer was when my hubby put that down as my occupation on our income tax form. :D. Anyone who knows my DH knows that was a big deal.

  4. I can't remember the exact moment I first felt like a writer (heck, sometimes I still don't), but I remember it took me a long time to admit it to other people. That took time, practice, and familiarity. I think the same must be true with thinking of yourself as a writer. It takes time spent crafting, practice telling yourself "I am a writer", and the familiarity of living with it for a while. It crept on me, you might say. :)

  5. Plotter, I once used a chocolate chip cookie recipe as an analogy about life. Perhaps I am an over analyzer?!

  6. Cathy- You seat of your spatula people make me nervous.

    Kathy-That WAS a good one, when you used it on your tax forms. :-)

    Danielle- I absolutely agree that it is even tougher to admit it to other people. I still have a lot of trouble with that.

    Michelle-I personally don't think you can ever over analyze anything.