why writing is similar to cooking? – A recipe on writing a delectable story

Writing and cooking are two different chores. While writing, all you need is pen, paper or laptop and an imaginative mind, cooking is more detailed work that requires a fine study of taste and aroma to make a delicious dish. Writing just need a little space – a writing desk and a lamp while cooking needs an enormous space – the whole kitchen that is scattered with onions, spices, flour, salt, black pepper, cooking essentials – chopping board, chopper, knives, mixer etc. To cook an interesting story, you need to be a creative foodie. A writer can’t bring flavor to a story if he hasn’t explored the outside world. More a writer travels more delicacy he can bring to a story. Imagine smelling the hot, spicy smoke emerging from a road-side Pav-Bhaji stall. It not only visually enticing, but the aroma too tantalizes the stomach.

From Dhoklas, Dosas, Tandoori Chicken to Hyderabadi Biryani, each food has its own flavor and bonds people over it. Love blossoms over a cup of coffee to progress over a candle light dinner and finally ties up in a relationship on a marriage reception. Even the writing process begins over a cup of coffee 🙂

A creative foodie is the one who not only has a taste for aromatic delicacies, but also a sense for refreshing ideas. What happens when a creative person gulps down a cup of coffee? Ideas start brewing in his mind. A writer needs to organize his thoughts like a homemaker. A homemaker gathers all the ingredients that are needed before cooking. She peels down the onion layers, chops the tomatoes, crushes the spices, adds salt and the essential elements needed to cook the food.

Right from thinking about the theme of the plot to creating characters, backdrops, situations, turning points to the grand climax, a writer has to make sure that his cooked up story is delicious enough to serve his reader. It is not necessary that a writer’s story become a best-seller. Sometimes it may turn tasteless. In case of homemaker, her food is appreciated by her family members even if there is less salt.

Additional salt can be placed in the food to balance the taste. Too much salt can ruin the taste. If you have added too many irrelevant sub-plots in your story, your reader may find the story boring. Writing and cooking both require patience. As a writer, if you have the right ingredients of ideas, you can serve a good, delectable story to your readers. What entices a reader is a good story with sensible sub-plots, memorable characters, engaging situations and a happy climax.

A story is like a dish – sweet like a dessert (ice-cream, gulab-jamun) lip-smacking like……It is up to the writer to prepare his story by keeping his favorite dish in his mind. Are you a creative foodie? What tantalizes your creative senses? Please share your ideas and tips on writing a perfect best-selling story.

(Disclaimer – The author of this article is not a celebrated Chef or possesses any skills in cooking. All the thoughts written in this article are product of author’s creative imagination. The cups of tea gulped during the pre-writing process helped him write this article. The visual imagination of the delicious ‘Pav-Bhaji’ helped him complete this article on Cooking and writing)

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The day I decided to quit writing…….

Writing is not everyone’s cup of tea. Writing is a craft which cannot be taught. It is like learning to swim on your own. Once you take a dip in the sea, you can’t survive unless your limbs start moving. I was proud to hone this craft until that day when my so called boss (or a presumed editor) criticized my writing piece by crumbling it in his hands and handing it over to me. That incident struck like a thunderbolt. I started suspecting my own writing qualities. Was I so poor in my writing skills or was it the world that was bent on seeing me quit writing? My writing materials were criticized every day with red marks all over it. It was scorned, rejected, disapproved.

Visual of a typewriter is always inspiring for budding writers

The red marks on the paper reflected the bleeding of my heart. I realized enough was enough. I couldn’t muster up the courage to continue my writing endeavors. I decided to quit writing. Even my so called friends advised me to quit writing. Some feel that writers are born failure. What a stupid misconception!! When I thought of quitting writing I realized why did I start it? Just to quit. This is not how the story is going to end.

Sylvia Plath had to face lot of heart breaking rejections in her writing career

Author Sylvia Plath’s writings were so miserably rejected that she committed suicide. Ironically she won a Pulitzer Prize for her writing works posthumously. Writer Thomas Hardy was so severely criticized for his prose that he gave up writing novels. Even Stephen King, the celebrated writer of horror genre once threw his writing materials in dustbin. It was his wife who picked his writing materials from the dustbin and encouraged Stephen to keep writing. The manuscript of Harry Potter book was rejected 20 to 30 times until it became a phenomenal landmark in literature. What if J.K.Rowling had decided to quit? We wouldn’t have been reading and seeing Harry Potter adventures in books and movies. In one of my interviews, the interviewer told me that my writing lacked the spice and flavor to attract readers. Really my writings don’t have the spice and flavor because I am not a cook  I write what I feel from the core of my heart. 99 % of the editors really don’t understand the craft of writing. They job is to reject the work of aspiring writers.

Even Ernest Hemingway had to face rejections

It is been 8 years since that discouraging day when I decided to quit writing. I may not become a successful and celebrated writer like Amish Tripathi, J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown or Stephen King, but I will continue writing irrespective of my writing medium – Blog, Articles and books. It is my devotion, conviction and belief towards my craft that keeps me going.

If I had quit writing 8 years back, I wouldn’t have been writing this article. There may be times when I will stumble and fall down.

But why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up. – Lines from movie Batman begins.

Writer’s block – A mental block or a creative booster

After destruction, there is a new creation. After separation, there is bonding. After slavery, there is a new freedom. To attain happiness, peace and success, life has to go through bad patch. Same thing applies for writing process too. They say ‘Hard writing is easy reading’. How true!! A writer toils day and night to make his words meaningful, readable and easily understandable. The one thing that obstructs a writers’ writing process is his inability to put down his ideas on paper or word document. This inability is termed as writer’s block.

Is writer’s block really a barricade in writing process? Not really. Or is it? When we shift from our old city to a completely new city, it takes time for us to mentally adapt ourselves to the surroundings, people, weather and the facilities. Even in writing process, our mind needs time to adapt to new theories, ideas and techniques. When we absorb new ideas through reading or seeing in books or any electronic medium, our mind reboots like a computer to operate efficiently with new updates. In writing process, if your mind is getting stuck due to lack of ideas, it doesn’t mean that you are facing writer’s block. Actually, our mind needs time to accumulate the new ideas that we have collected in our thought process. It is same as a mobile app gets updated every week or month with new features and utilities. In my beginning days as an emerging writer, I too faced writer’s block. There was a time, when I couldn’t come up with a single article even for months. It was my misconception that I was facing writer’s block. After the phase of writer’s block, I came up with interesting write ups which were far better than my previous works. It was a Eureka moment for me. I realized that the writer’s block is nothing but a resting phase for our mind to come up with better ideas. This creative block applies for painter, visualizer as well as for a sculptor.

Usually when I face a mental blockage in my writing process, I stop my writing activity. I divert my mind towards music or books. It is seen that majority of creative people sip lots of coffee to boost their creative process. I don’t know how much effective is coffee in arousing our creativity. Actually coffee helps our mind to stay awake for a long phase. It has nothing to do with creativity. For writers, reading is really a must. Especially writers should read at least 100 books a year. The reading activity keeps our mind channelized to absorb new ideas on daily basis. It is like charging your mobile. Same applies for mind too. Occurrence of writer’s block is natural and harmless. There is nothing to panic. Just divert your mind towards other activities like planting, traveling, praying, meditation, exercising, shopping, hangouts with friends, cooking etc. There is lot to explore in your life. Typing words on computer is not writing. Even a data entry operator can do that. Your words differ from the data entry operator. Your words inspire, motivate, encourage and bring a positive change in someone’s life. That writing is actually my friend, your real forte.

Be proud to be a writer. Keep the world inspiring with your words.

200 articles, 7 years – What next?

Today my wordpress blog reaches the mark of 200 articles. Should I rejoice or think what the next story has kept in store for my readers? What just started as a mere writing activity in 2009 on wordpress flourished into a compilation of 200 inspiring articles. May be my accomplishment is very small compared to other writers who write and publish their stories every day.

This journey was not easy. This blog writing journey has faced many trials of failures, heartbreaking rejections, criticism and tragic incidents. Many people had suggested me to quit writing. Some had even opinion of my writings that it lacked spice. They were right. My articles lacked spice because I am not a paparazzi columnist or a magazine writer who writes sizzling stories on celebrities and their raunchy affairs. That is not my forte. I believe in writing that is simple to understand and easy on mind. The comments that my readers and friends have poured in my blog has kept my fingers moving.

In dark hours of rejections, I thought of giving up writing. Our abilities are God’s gift to us. What we achieve through our abilities is a return gift to God. God never wants us to rust our skills. Since this writing skill was God’s boon to me, I couldn’t forsake this skill. As my blog post reaches mark of 200 stories, I feel this journey was worth taking.

After 7 years of blog writing, it is time to re-think what next will I offer to my readers? That’s a huge responsibility on my shoulders to live up to my expectations as an inspiring writer who writes motivating and entertaining stories. Hope God gives me strength to continue this writing journey with more zeal and gusto. It is time to head back to my writing table and see which story is waiting for me.