"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

Sunday, September 21, 2014

4 Reasons Cooking Shows Make the Perfect Recipe For Writing Success...Part 2

Jen's Deviled eggs
Would you like to "turn up the heat" on your writing career?Improve your "presentation" skills? Enhance your creativity?
Here's the ticket, in two words: cooking shows.

I've said it before, but it merits repeating.
So, here's a refresher...
Cooking shows are a great way to learn more about the craft of writing and how to approach your projects with greater purpose, passion, and vision.

And I should know. As a culinary cutie, I'm often glued to the tube, watching weekly shows to get new ideas on old recipes; I love to cook for family and friends, and I find it rather relaxing.

Jen's Homemade Cole Slaw
But even if you don't dig the idea of "slaving in front of a hot stove," you may enjoy the TV cooking competitions, for their entertainment factor and the teachable moments they provide in the way of writing lessons.

Here are a few of them. See if you'll agree.

4. Poor time management can have disastrous results.  
I've witnessed more than a time or two when talented cooks on various shows have mis-managed their time, (due to disorganization, improper planning, or not accounting for "Murphy's Law").  As a result, they served up raw meat that wasn't allowed to sufficiently cook, or literally threw their dishes together (to finish within the allotted time), and lost points for poor presentation. They ended up being ousted from the competition. And lost a lot of money in the process!  Writers sometimes suffer similar perils, when serving up "half-baked" pitches to editors,  missing important deadlines with clients, or not taking the time to proofread their work before publishing. Don't be one of them.

3.  You have to be able to successfully handle the "heat."
Hell's Kitchen is one of my favorite programs. And though I've never had to cook in a professional capacity, I have worked with people, who like Chef Ramsey have the sensitivity of Howard Stern.
And you will too. Sometimes editors' critiques can be brutal. Readers may not always agree with our position on a particular issue, or we may get a book review that is embarrassing.
Word to the wise: If you don't develop a thick skin, you'll never be able to go the distance. Don't be bitter, be better.

2. Making the best of the situation will ultimately make you a better writer.
Let's face it. We all have encountered professional situations that have been less than "ideal." Being assigned a story that we don't like, getting last minute requests that prove challenging, or having the parameters of a project changed. But, as they say, "It's not how you start, it's how you finish" that matters. For example, on a recent episode of Master Chef, the cooks were dealt a difficult task.
The mission? They had to make appetizing dishes out of the brains, heart, and testicles of selected animals. Not your usual cooking ingredients, right? Though some were initially repulsed by the idea, they were able to work through it and advance in the competition. Learn to "craft" something beautiful from raw, "unrefined" materials, when necessary.

Jen's Homemade Cheese Cake

 1. Don't let fear limit your horizons.
By nature, I'm not a person who likes to take a lot of risks. I don't consider myself bold or particularly experimental. But, as a creative artist, I often find that I have to be. How else will I challenge myself and reach new heights? Or learn from trial and error? Or develop new skills? I remember when computers first came out, I was really intimidated. Technology was something I didn't think I could successfully master. But, once I got over it, I increased my skill set and my bottom line.
The same thing applies to my cooking. Many times, I had to toss my "experiments" in the garbage and start over again. (And no one ever knew). :-) With some trial and error and tweaking, I can now serve things that I'm proud of, and that appeal to the tastes of many. Yay!
What fear do you need to conquer to move forward?
Perhaps it's a book that you lack the courage to release. Or addressing a controversial topic on your blog. Or starting the first step of a writing career.  Take inventory. Take baby steps. But do it.
"There's no time like the present."

Agree or disagree? What "ingredients" would you add here?


  1. Jen--I liked the show "Chopped," which is perfect for a writer as well. As each cook gets eliminated, they have to leave the show with their head held high and with the desire to continue...even though they've been rejected.

    Great post. (I love "Hotel Hell" too.)

    1. Hi Sioux,
      Welcome back. :-) Thanks for sharing here. I may check out Hotel Hell for the new season.

  2. Great suggestions. You always love how you "cook up" ideas and turn them into good ways to improve writing. Write on. Write on.

  3. Hi Jen -

    I like watching cooking shows as well. I also like reading about writing, but guess what? If I don't get into the kitchen and cook, there's no food to put on the table. And...if I don't actually sit down and put all those writing lessons into practice, I'll never see my ideas published. The proof of the pudding in this case is in the doing!


    1. Yep, I would agree. :-) Thanks for chiming in, Susan.

  4. "Don't be bitter; be better." Excellent point that can be applied to writing and beyond. Excellent post!

    1. Glad to get your input, Steph. Thanks for adding to the mix. :-)

  5. One of the post on my blog, that has been on the most popular posts-list for a while is a post about Workspaces that Inspire, and I do believe that a Kitchen can offers a great example for an Inspiring and functional workspace.

    So I do believe that a Functional Workspace is an "Ingredient" that can be helpful. (Also a 'Functional World', with readers that can also see some of my trashy writing experiments as treasures might be helpful :))

  6. I agree! These are wonderful and inspiring points. Thanks, Jen. Suddenly I am hungry for some reason. What time is dinner at your house? )

    1. Karen,

      You have an open invitation, dearest. :-) Thanks much!

  7. "the sensitivity of Howard Stern." You crack me up! And each of your points is so well made. Love the peek into your kitchen. Now I want to go cook something. Hmmm.

  8. Thanks, girlfriend. And while you're in that kitchen send me a good Mac and cheese recipe! :-)