Cooking Up Ideas

Once a month our critique group meets. We each bring what we are working on – rough drafts of manuscripts, storyboards and illustrations that are baked, half baked or sometimes overbaked. We talk about the work and then we have lunch. We each bring something to contribute to lunch as well; it’s a potluck.

I usually worry a little about the work I am sharing but never about the food.

I’ve been thinking about how to approach writing with the same ease that I approach cooking. I enjoy everything about cooking – planning what to make, chopping, cooking, serving, eating and even washing the dishes.

When I write or paint I love it once I get started. But I sometimes fear that I have a finite number of ideas. When the page is empty I worry that it will stay that way.

I am comfortable cooking because I have been doing it most of my life. Sometimes the bread doesn’t rise perfectly or the soup is too thin or thick. But I know that it will come out better the next time. I keep cooking.

With painting I have a similar comfort and a habit of working. Part of what makes me able to paint good paintings is allowing myself to paint some bad ones. Ideas beget ideas.

Writing is still not routine for me, but making writing as common as cooking could be the key to making ideas flow. As I write more the empty page will feel more like an opportunity and less like an abyss. The empty page could be that little pang of hunger that makes me want to cook.

p.s. Here is an attempt I made a while ago to literally bake an illustration for a book. It doesn’t completely work  yet but maybe the idea will rise again someday. Bon Appetit!

8 responses to “Cooking Up Ideas

  1. Love this post, especially your baked illustration :). Gorgeous work!

  2. very nourishing! But , what’s with the AMDRO video?

  3. Now I know why I sometimes cook really bad meals: to be able to cook the good ones, right? Thanks for your post, Julie!

  4. Static baked goods — even better than claymation! Would love to see pages of this.

  5. Ellen L. Ramsey

    Love your “baking an illustration”! I write with more ease than I cook–maybe the trick is to remember that neither one needs to be perfect–at first stir or at first draft. With writing, you have opportunity to revise. With cooking, you can always spice it up by adding more hot sauce!

  6. When cooking, usually one has one focus, for the dish being cooked, so there is a clear path with some variation perhaps, but not as much as in writing. Perhaps in writing the idea of so many choices makes us uneasy, wondering which path to take and whether the destination will be the best one. I loved your ‘baked illustration’ too; for the right story, it would be “delicious”.

  7. lana sundberg

    love the bread dough piece
    I have the ones you gave me hanging on the wall
    in the kitchen

  8. Delicious!

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