Monday, October 12, 2015
Bringing the Heat! 4 Ways Cooking Shows Inspire by Jennifer Brown Banks
Jennifer Brown Banks shares her insight in this savvy and savory guest post. When you're finished reading, join Jennifer and me for some virtual pie, okay? :)
Bringing the Heat! 4 Ways Cooking Shows can Inspire and Inform Today’s Writers
By Jennifer Brown Banks
When most of us think about education to improve our craft as writers, that automatically translates into books and online courses designed to improve our communication skills, and teach us literary techniques to help construct better stories.
But, as a big fan of cooking shows and competitions, I can attest that these culinary programs can provide a smorgasbord of valuable lessons that will enable today’s writers to become more strategic, resourceful, creative and results-oriented.
And a side bonus here: you can “eat into“ your profits.
Accordingly, here are a few cooking-related practices and principles you’ll want to incorporate in your writing career for hotter results!
For cooks and aspiring chefs, this includes having a well-organized, well-stocked kitchen area, washing meats and vegetables that go into the meals beforehand, and reading product directions. For writers, this could consist of drafting an outline, composing a query letter, mental focus, or reading a publication’s submission guidelines before sending work.
No matter how skilled, when cooking competition contestants are not organized, or fail to plan ahead, they waste valuable time, become frazzled, and perform poorly due to excessive stress. And you know what they say about “If you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen…“ The same holds true for writers. Particularly those who operate with half-baked ideas, lack a business plan, or expect success without first formulating clear short and long-term goals. They become starving artists and quit before ever reaching their full potential. Don’t let it be you.
Most of the individuals that emerge as winners with these competitions, I’ve found, are those who take their mother or grandma’s recipes and tweak them to perfection. They’re not afraid to experiment (and temporarily fail) in order to arrive at just the right combination, to yield a “killer” recipe and distinguish themselves from the wannabes.
Be inspired by others, but don’t copy. Study the prominent writers in your chosen genre. What are their strengths? Their techniques? Their draw? Apply, but modify.
My weekly line-up of cooking shows includes every race, ethnicity, gender, and even food type for a well-rounded experience. I dig Ming Tsai for Asian cuisine, Lidia for Italian cooking, Patti’s Mexican table, Barbeque University, Chef Jeff for a little soul, and Michael Smith for American grub. They’re all different. But, you know what they collectively have in common? They all concentrate on one particular area of food preparation in establishing their expertise. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve seen them give their interpretation of other dishes outside of their wheelhouse. Some can even whip up some mean and decadent desserts! But basically, they have a laser-like focus on one type of food style.
Pick a creative passion. Hone it. Own it. There’s great validity to the expression, “Jack of all trades and master of none.”
When all is said and done, proper execution is the yardstick by which all other efforts will be measured and judged. Contestants who have been strategic, smart, attentive, and have cultivated well-developed palates in the process, are able to prepare and beautifully plate meals that appeal to the judges; meeting the requirements for successful advancement to heading or owning their own restaurants.
Execute by sending your best work out. Let it simmer before serving. Pay attention to the advice and input of editors, reviewers, readers and publishers. Yet, recognize that everything that you create will not suit everyone’s taste.
By following these timely tips, you’ll become a more well-rounded, hearty writer who’s really cooking!
Jennifer Brown Banks is an award-winning blogger, ghost writer and columnist. If you’d like more tips and tools to hone your craft and increase your cash, visit Jennifer’s award-winning site at Pen and Prosper.
Thanks for sharing, Jennifer!
What lessons have you learned from the kitchen? Does food inspire your writing?
Photo credit: Free Images, Nancy Lowrie