Chocolate, chicken fingers, and chili. These are some of my favourite foods. I also feel the need to note that it is just a coincidence that they all start with C… Anyway, cutting to the chase, this is what my favourite foods taught me about writing.
Just macaroni and cheese
Food: When I was a kid, I went on very specific food binges. When I found a food I loved, I wanted it and nothing but it (Okay, I am still a bit like that sometimes). I had an obsession with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for the longest time. I loved it! But after a while it just wasn’t the same. In fact, I actually started to dislike it!
Lesson: Too much of a good thing is hazardous. Most writers have a word that they latch on to and they bludgeon it to death by using it so much. Try not to worry about these words in your first draft, but when revising, search through your writing for words you overused and either replace or cut them.
Then there is body language. Just as words can be overused, so can body language. Characters should not be sighing, shrugging or smiling on every single page. Just like I started to resent macaroni and cheese after eating it everyday, a reader will get sick of repetitive words or actions. Mix it up and keep it fresh!
“Why on earth would I try that? It’s made of what!?”
Food: I know what I like to eat and I certainly know what my favourite foods are. Trying new food can be terrifying, making it easy to get stuck in a food rut.
Lesson: Don’t be afraid to try a new genre. Sure, it may be anxiety provoking and I’m not saying that you’re going to be good at it right off the bat. Heck, honestly I’m not saying you’re going to ever be good at it. But even if you’re worst fear is confirmed and you write something that is absolutely horrendous, at least you don’t have to wonder anymore. Plus, in my experience, trying to write something new can be the key to unlocking the creative flood gates. Even if I fall flat on my face with a new project, if it helps me with another project that I am more serious about, I consider the failure worth it!
Under the bed, in pots and pans and taped under the table.
Food: If you’re like me, when it comes to your favourite food, you aren’t very fond of sharing. I have to admit that I am a bit of a squirrel. If I buy myself chocolate I will often stash it away. When it comes time to eat my treat, I hate finding out that it is already in someone else’s tummy.
Lesson: Set aside some time everyday that is specifically for writing. It can be as little as 10 minutes and you can write as little as 3 words. The idea is that you are writing. Try treating writing time like your favourite food. I try to stash my food away from hungry bellies and I also try to schedule my writing time away from interruptions. It’s not a perfect system. Just as someone may occasionally stumble upon my snack stash, interruptions do happen. Life is busy, we all know that. There are a million and one things that could be done instead of writing, but if you’re serious about honing the craft, set aside the time needed to get it done.
What’s your favourite food and what has it taught you?