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!

THE PRACTICE:

PREPARATION 

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.

THE LESSON: 

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.

THE PRACTICE: 

INNOVATION 

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.

THE LESSON: 

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.

THE PRACTICE: 

SPECIALIZATION 

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.

THE LESSON: 

Pick a creative passion. Hone it. Own it. There’s great validity to the expression, “Jack of all trades and master of none.”

THE PRACTICE: 

EXECUTION 

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.

THE LESSON: 

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!


About Jennifer 


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? 

Happy writing,
Karen



Photo credit: Free Images, Nancy Lowrie

34 comments :

  1. Hi Karen - Jennifer seems to have it all down to a T ... good blogging and tempting us with practising lots of recipes to keep our food sharp!! Cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks, Hilary! For me, both cooking and blogging are labors of love. :-)

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  2. I've never seen an analogy between writing and cooking before. Enjoyed Jennifer's post. She's making me want to watch some cooking shows.

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    1. Natalie,

      Glad to bring inspiration here! You'll find many more analogies and parallels at my blog. I hope you'll hop over...

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  3. Hilary,
    She does, doesn't she? Jennifer always brings good insight and advice. So glad you came to see us! :)

    Natalie,
    It's a great angle, isn't it? Jennifer offers good, thought provoking ideas. As for watching cooking shows, I agree. Wanting to tune in now! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  4. Thanks, Karen. It's a pleasure to be here!

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  5. Jennifer is always cooking something up. Her writing resonates and it is obvious she has the recipes for success. Thanks for sharing Karen and Jen.

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  6. Hi Jennifer and Karen! Love that advice of 'simmer before serving'. And edit, edit, edit. I had a short essay accepted by a magazine, and when I saw it I was so embarrassed! I would have edited it again for sure. Should have simmered it!
    I love the show 'Project Runway'. I have no idea how these artists get inspired by the craziest things, but they do. I think writers are the same way. You have cooking, I have sewing, and it all feeds our creative spirits.
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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  7. Specialize. That is key. We all need to be really good at something, not average at everything.
    Sorry, closest I come to a cooking show it Restaurant Impossible.

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  8. Lovely extended metaphor! And thanks for the pie.

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    1. This made me want to grab a snack. The cooking shows inspired Jennifer and she inspired me. :-) And you always inspire me, amigo. Edit, edit, edit. *sigh* I get that. :-) Thanks to both of you.

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  9. Jen,
    It's my pleasure! Always fun and informative to have you visit. :)

    Linda,
    Well said! Jennifer is indeed a gem. :) Happy to host her today.

    Ceil,
    I'm glad you were able to stop and meet Jennifer! Oh my - the editing thing - have had it happen to me too. A bit of a wake up call for sure. :)

    Alex,
    You said it, this is true! I think RI qualifies as a cooking show; they do actually cook, so there you go! :)

    Lee,
    I agree, it is! You know, I have been in the mood for pie all day for some reason...LOL :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen



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  10. Robyn,
    Well, I'm thinking we just need to get together for some pie or other tasty treat, don't you think? We can meet halfway around about the mountains in TN. You up for it? :) xo
    Karen

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  11. Great analogy, Jennifer! Lidia is one of my favorites as well. I also enjoy Cook's Country and their Test Kitchen.

    Being prepared is essential for writing and life in general. Hmm, I'd better jot down some notes for my author event in November. I may be a SOTP writer, but I'm not so sure I'm also a SOTP speaker. :)

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    1. Susan,

      I'm a fan of C.C., too! I dig that they also give the historical background of some of their recipes and ingredients. Thanks for stopping by.

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  12. What a cool analogy! Thanks for the insights. :)

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  13. Susan,
    Glad you enjoyed the post. Appreciate your contribution to the discussion! :)

    Lisa,
    Glad you liked the post! Jen is smart and savvy, isn't she?:)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  14. Fun little analogy. Very nice, thank you.

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  15. Awesome advice. I'm all for letting something simmer until it's ready to go.

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  16. Excellent post! I definitely think we need the preparation, the tweaking/applying, and the simmering. However, I feel pretty strongly about writing in at least three different genres - speculative fiction, and writing help/curriculum non-fiction, and then . . . some historical stuff that I haven't sent anywhere yet. I've seen authors who grow perfect at one genre and then go stale - of course, this is after they have 30 or so books out there, and I'm not anywhere near there yet so I should probably slow down on diversifying.

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  17. Hi Karen and Jennifer! I loved this post. Great analogy but have to admit, I never thought of this analogy before.

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  18. Holly,
    Glad you stopped by. Thought this might interest you since you've authored several cookbooks. :) I agree, it is a fun analogy!

    Crystal,
    I am pretty sure we are all invited to Jennifer's for dinner tonight. If not, we can surprise her. Appreciate you coming to see us! )

    Tyrean,
    Glad you liked it! You bring up an interesting point. You are a great example in this respect - you crank out those words like crazy! :

    Olivia,
    Hi back! So glad you liked the post. :) I'd not thought much about it either. Jennifer enlightens in such a wonderful way.

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  19. I've met people who are master of none. It's so important to focus on something and give it one's all.

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  20. Medeia,
    Good point. I have as well. Thanks for coming by and adding your thoughts! :)
    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  21. Great post and advice. Letting it simmer works.

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  22. Nas,
    Thanks so much for coming by! I agree, simmering is important. :)
    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  23. I enjoy watching cooking shows and it was fun to see the comparison to writing. Well done, Jennifer! Such an interesting post. :) Thanks for sharing.
    ~Jess

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  24. Jess,
    Glad you got to come check out the post. :) Jen has great insight, doesn't she?
    Happy writing,
    Karen

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!