"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lessons on Writing Served up Straight From the "Kitchen"!

If you’ve followed this blog for more than a hot minute, you know two things for certain: I love writing and I’m a true “foodie“.

Yep. Though I’m a modern woman who has no problem with making my own way in the business world, and being fierce, I‘m unapologetically “old school” when it comes to being domestic.
I love trying new recipes, watching food shows, creating kitchen crafts, and impressing the male species through my culinary skills.

Name a cooking show, and it’s likely it’s on my weekly line-up.
From Simply Ming, to Katie Brown’s Workshop, to America’s Test Kitchen, to Rachael Ray, to old episodes of Julia Child.
Oddly, I also find them relaxing.

Which is why I’m a huge fan of the weekly Fox 32 hit show, “Hell’s Kitchen”.

Any other “customers” out there?
For those who are not on board, here’s a quick run-down.

Essentially, Hell’s Kitchen is a popular, reality show that engages cooks from all areas and backgrounds in a culinary competition of sorts; with the winner earning bragging rights, cash, and the opportunity to be a head chef at a designated upscale restaurant.

Think of it as the American Idol for “food performers” .

Though you typically won’t find recipes you can quickly whip up at home for the family, the show has great entertainment value, and an assortment of lessons it “serves up” for today’s writer.

Here are a few I culled from a recent episode. See if you agree.

1. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen!
Master Chef, Gordon Ramsay, is insanely wicked when it comes to critiques of contestants.
He makes comedian Andrew Dice Clay sound like a Boy Scout comparatively. (Hence the name, “Hell’s Kitchen”.) So be forewarned!
The point here?
Sometimes rejection letters, commentary provided by editors, and even general blog comments by readers, can be brutal and unfair.
Don’t let it permanently burn you. It comes with the territory. Apply what you can. Pass on leftovers.

2. Don’t discount expert experience.
Generally speaking, experts in any field, are designated experts for a reason.
They’ve done their homework. They’ve traveled where you’re trying to go.
They know some things that you don’t. Hello?
Each show, I’m amazed at how resistant some folks are to the advice of their mentors.
Though confidence is an admirable trait, confidence should never come before competence.
It doesn’t even in the dictionary.

3. Be careful not to “stir the pot”.
Let’s face it: You won’t always like a client, collaborator or colleague--but it’s important to strive to get along and to be professional. Don’t wage silly word wars through social media and online bulletin boards. It can mean career suicide.

4. Organize your work space for greater efficiency.
We all love our corners of clutter, don’t we? Sometimes it seems easier to let the piles grow, rather than to sift, file, decide and discard--as the situation dictates. We simply put it off, and ultimately toss needed organizing to our mounting to-do list.

But, I’ve found that clean desks and orderly quarters often contribute to clearer thinking and a sense of balance and peace. Not to mention, the easier it is to put our hands on desk calendars, valuable interview notes, ink pens, stamps, etc. the better we function, and the more time we have to write!

5. Appearance is important.
In cooking, delectable dishes are made more appealing through a technique called “plating”.
Plating involves the balance of colors and textures, arrangement of food, and general cleanliness.
For writers and bloggers, we can compare this concept to the way our sites are designed, images used, sidebar content, and formatting of text. It should also include a presentation void of typos and grammatical errors.

6. Good cooking, like good writing, takes time.
Let it simmer. Recognize that there is a learning curve and a discovery process.
Experiment. Prepare with love.

These six tips are intended to provide food for thought for writers of all levels and genres.
Embrace and enjoy...
Bon appetit!

Thoughts? Any comments brewing?

Image Credit: SPFF


  1. Hello Jennifer,

    I like the kitchen analogy also on my own blog you might have seen that I talk about Short Stories that are brewing in the 'Short Story Kitchen'.

    The basic idea about the Short Story Kitchen (with Short Stories in developement) was to collaborate with other writers, and get comments from other writers to somehow - with the 'Wisdom of Crowds' - create at least a few possible compelling Short Stories. A discovery process with experiments. (Also I do believe that lot's of Big Bestsellers are usually written by a whole team.)

    Only possibly writers are so hooked on not publishing before editing that while I do have an occasional commenter on some of my other posts, nobody dares to 'Eat' my Short Stories, my Short Stories seem to have the plague :)

    Also when I for example look at my Home Business blog there are a lot more commenters, than on my Writers Blog, are all writer's so hooked on editing and appearance that they are to scare to experiment?

    'Can't they stand the heat?'

  2. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 13, 2012 at 5:33 AM


    Interesting feedback. Sometimes the amount of comments generated can be a result of the type of reading audience, the popularity of the topic, and the length of time that the Blog has been in the blogosphere. I'll have to check out your "Short Story Kitchen".

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Delighted that I found your site, fantastic info. I will bookmark and try to visit more frequently.

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 15, 2012 at 4:47 AM


      By the way, you can also "sign up" for updates by clicking on the icon in the right hand margin of this site.

  4. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 15, 2012 at 4:30 AM

    Hi Merkur,

    Welcome! Thank you so much. Hope to see you again soon. :-)

  5. I love these points. You are so right! I need to give some attention to #4. My desk is currently a mess. I can go with it for a while, but then I must do something about it. That task is near the top of the to-do list this week.

    Have a great week!

  6. Hi Karen,

    I can relate. I need to spruce up the files in my bedroom, too :-) Thanks for adding to the mix.

  7. I'm a Hell's Kitchen fan, too, and I can't even boil an egg. I just keep waiting for the day when Chef Ramsay will say the wrong thing to the wrong person and true sparks will fly. (Isn't that just like the writer in me? I always love a drama!)

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 16, 2012 at 8:44 AM

      Welcome back, Debra! Hope all has been well. :-)
      Yep, I agree. The Chef is bound to get in "hot water" soon. Then it'll be "on like a pot of neck bones"! LOL

      Like I said before, I love anything on the tube that deals with food, (pretty much). Thanks for stopping by.

      Oh yeah...he also has a show coming up where he deals with hotels. Should be interesting. We'll see.