Category Archives: Writing and such things

Writing and Baking

With the holidays approaching and all the baking goods going on sale, it’s hard not to get swept up by sweet tooth madness.  I was feeling a little bummed because I don’t have a “special” baking recipe to call my own. I’m not much of a baker. So I decided I would create something. I went to my pantry and stared at the contents. Nothing spectacular. I still found something to whip up though–a rough version of a peanut butter brownie. I cheated and mixed my concoction with a store bought brownie mix. The result? Well it wasn’t mind-blowing but it didn’t go to the dogs either.

It was sweet and flavorful but still needs some tweaking. To be honest I was surprised that it turned out at all, considering I like to eyeball my measurements here and there. When I gave some to my boyfriend he actually liked it. My mother liked it, my sister liked it. I know they weren’t lying because the baking dish was empty, but I found it to be on the bland side. It made me think of the similarities between writing and baking.

1) Trail and error

You always feel that something can be tweaked within your story/recipe to make it better.

2)They like it, you think it’s all right

Sometimes people love your story or baked good; you think it’s nothing special because you’re over critical and think you can do better.

3) Time and effort

Writing like baking takes time and dedication.

4) General plan

You have to have a general idea of where you are going with your story. Just as you need a general direction for the baked good you are trying to create.

5) Ingredients are like characters

Each one is different and each on serves a purpose. Leave one out and the whole thing changes.

 

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Hobbies? What are those?

I’m sitting on the couch, drinking cheap coffee and staring at my bookshelf. It’s a clustered mass of fiction, non-fiction, boxes, videos, old photos that have never been organized and at the bottom my contribution to killing the world’s trees–all my notebooks.

I’ve been meaning to organize this chaos for quite some time now. I know I won’t get to it, perhaps I enjoy the mess that holds some of my reading material. Some of the books aren’t even mine but there they sitting silently with all the rest.

The main thought running through my head isn’t the wide range of topics my books cover but why I stopped reading. Why did I stop reading? For years when asked about my hobbies I always had a simple answer: reading, drawing and writing. Now, when asked the same question my mind goes blank; like it doesn’t remember the things I once enjoyed.

A few weeks ago a little girl asked me what I liked to do. I found it to be a very hard question. Her answer was so simple, “I like to play and go to school so I can talk to my friends.”

I was honest, I told her I didn’t know. She was dumbfounded and couldn’t understand how I didn’t know what I liked to do. I guess at her age I would have had the same reaction.

“What do you mean you don’t know what you like to do?”

Well,  once you start giving up what you like it’s a long road to get back to those pleasurable things. For years my life consisted of work and school. Sounds simple until you break it down. Until you add up the hours that each one requires, demands of you: all the rules and regulations, the studying, researching, homework, calculating, scheming, balancing college and non-college classes. Then add everyday life on top of that: bills, chores, socializing. I remember multiple times where I sat drinking, writing out a paper or completing a worksheet. Other times I toted my books to the bar and read my assigned chapters like a good little nerd while others played pool. I took online classes so I pretty much taught myself–if you don’t read the books you won’t get anything from the class. Do I regret it? No, just can’t believe I did it.

Try explaining to a seven-year-old that kind of burn out. It doesn’t work. Yet, that’s the reason I stopped reading for pleasure and why I have a lack of hobbies. Got burned out, plain and simple.

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Combating Writer’s Block

It’s inevitable, the blank screen will haunt you. Your fingers posed over the keyboard, your mind racing with ideas and yet the screen continues to be a daunting white mass. Here are a few things I’ve found useful for getting over the writer’s arch nemesis.

1) Relax

Stress can produce awesome stories, articles, writing period but not when you’re stressed out about writing. Writer’s block tends to get worse the more you agonize over it.

2) Allez pour une promenade (no I did not use Google Translate, thanks)

Yes, my French is super rusty. And yes I did pay attention in high school. Anyway, go for a walk. We often are so busy that we tend to neglect the spiritual side of ourselves. I’ve found that walking, just walking, having no aim can help calm the spirit. Enjoy the changing seasons, the beauty around you or stare mindlessly at the sidewalk. The act of moving, getting physical activity that serves no purpose other than that of itself is rewarding. It allows you to relax, clear your mind, get fresh air and may even inspire you.

3) Eat

It’s hard working on an empty stomach. Feeding your body will help you concentrate and will allow you to refocus your energy.

4) Write in the moment

Catching the “ah-ha” is very important especially if you’ve been stuck for days. If you’re out and about try to bring something you can write in with you. I’ve found a notebook to be helpful.

5) Clean

Sometimes, most of the time, doing things we aren’t particularly found of will shove the old mind into working. Cleaning serves that purpose for me. It’s not my favorite thing to do and always has to be done. Therefore it makes for a nice mindless task to counter the wasted hours attempting to write. One of the beauties and hassles of cleaning is that it always has to be done. Alas, you’ll always have something to take your mind off the fact that your muse is escaping you.

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