In Others’ Words: Fight the Recipe

SONY DSC When it comes to cooking and using a recipe … well, I’m not the most strict follower of outlined steps.

Oh sure, I buy the recommended ingredients. But when it comes to measurements, I tend to eyeball a teaspoon of salt or a cup of sugar. Close enough is good enough, right?

Follow the recipe to a point … and then freewheel a bit. That’s the fun of being a “creative.”

Don’t you love that word creative? It gives you permission to push the rules back a bit so you can try new things … explore … and enjoy the unexpected results.

When it comes to writing, I am a creative. Yes, I’ve learned the craft — and I’m still learning new ways to be a better writer. But when it comes to story, this is where I fight the recipe. This is where I dare myself to try new things, to up my game, to set aside the literary measuring cups and spoons and follow the story down unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes I allow my characters have their say, rather than putting words in their mouths.

Fightng the recipe … daring to embrace life as a creative … and allowing the story be more than I ever imagined.

In Your Words: How do you live your life as a creative? Where do you fight — or follow — the recipe? 

With thanks to my writing friend, Susan Mathis, who said this wonderful bit of wisdom when she spoke at the local Colorado Springs ACFW meeting this month.

[Tweet “In Others’ Words: Fight the Recipe #inotherswords #lifequotes #amwriting”] [Tweet “”We are creatives.” @SusanGMathis #writers #inotherswords”]


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  1. February 18, 2015, 12:24 am   /  Reply

    I’m liable to drop some paprika into a glass of diet coke, just to see what happens. Or mix red wine and hot chocolate.

    Got to admit,m though, that seeing two dogs playing tug-of-war with my first effort as a meringue was a touch disheartening.n It survived, in one piece, for quite a while.

    But when I write, I’m a journalist…my characters have their own lives and agendas, and heaven forfend I should impede them. They’d be quite cross, so I just listen and watch and record.

    • February 18, 2015, 7:46 am   /  Reply

      You sound like a bit of a mad scientist when it comes to following the recipe, Andrew. Bwahahahaha!
      And yes, I can understand the journalist’s approach to discovering your characters and letting them come alive on the page. Sometimes we writers just need to get out of our imaginary characters’ way.

  2. February 18, 2015, 8:59 am   /  Reply

    I loved this post, Beth. I’m a recipe follower. You know this. 😉 In real life, I’m learning how to let things flow when I cook. When a story is cooking, I’m also learning to step away from the recipe sometimes. Sometimes, I do this better when friends help me see a better plan for the story than I saw for it. 🙂

    I must say though, I’m not quite as daring as Andrew. 😉

    • February 20, 2015, 6:10 am   /  Reply

      There’s a time for planning — for me, that’s the Book Buddy part — and there’s a time for tossing the recipe — brainstorming, fast drafting, daydreaming … and you are willing to do both, Jeanne.

  3. February 19, 2015, 8:27 am   /  Reply

    I’m discovering the creative side in me! 🙂 And I’m liking it. 🙂

    • February 20, 2015, 6:09 am   /  Reply

      Discovering you’re a creative is fun and freeing, isn’t it, Shelli? <3

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