How Writing is like Baking Cookies

It was a bet I did with my daughter over a Netflix movie, Designated Survivor, that made me think of how much writing is like baking cookies.

It was one of the heights in the series and I exclaimed ‘oh, no!’ – which I seldom do 🙂 Then the episode was over and it was bedtime for school kids.

… Yes, I could have stayed up and watched further since I am a grownup, but Designated Survivor is something we watch together, so I had to take one for the team… (Parents Guide on IMDB is UK 12+, US is TV-PG, and 15+ on Common Sense Media. I say 12+ and I am strict, ask around)…

My daughter and I were contradicting each other over what will happen next. I had a gut feeling that her prediction will be correct (she’s really good at this), but since I was keen on my forecast too, we decided to have a bet.

The Bet

Whoever looses bakes cookies.

I am sure you will all agree that the boys in our house are the true winners here.

How Writing is like Baking Cookies

How Writing is like Baking Cookies? Read on.

It all starts with an idea.

We were excited right then and there. It didn’t matter who will win the bet anymore, we were going to have freshly baked cookies.

Whenever I get an idea for a new book (and I do, most of the time, wish I could clone myself) I get this tingling feeling, a surge of energy and I am HAPPY thinking about it. What will happen, where will I travel (most of my novels include some traveling), and will there be a dog? As all my books include (at least) one dog.

How do you feel when you think of freshly baked cookies in your kitchen? I feel bouncy. And I get a Christmasy feeling too.

Planning comes next

I think that even writers which are pantsers, who fly by the seat of their pants, do a little bit of planning when they begin work on a new book. I like to plan quite a bit. I have an outline, with plot points and acts, then I have my copy of synopsis where I write all that will happen, all the little details, the clues, the catches – in neat order.

My synopsis usually looks like a painter’s work. I start with the basics then I go over it again and again and again…

Baking cookies requires planning too, even if it happens on the spur of the moment – like our bet did. The least is co-ordinating the recipe with what’s in the pantry, right? And going one step back, any good cook will agree that a few basic things are always to be found in the pantry. I am just a mom of teens 🙂 therefor my pantry will always contain flour, sugar, oil, eggs – the very minimal basics.

How Writing is like Baking Cookies

The anticipation

I find the writing process highly addictive. Whether you write a blog, poetry or a book, the entire ritual of creating from scratch is addictive.

The anticipation is there to fill us up with excitement, with adrenaline and serotonin. Our hearts beat faster, there is more oxygenate blood reaching the brain, helping with the writing process. While the serotonin gives us that well-being and overall happiness.

Who wouldn’t want to feel that again and again?

There is anticipation in baking too. Memories of sweet vanilla and rich cocoa flooding our kitchen and sneaking through the rest of the house always come to mind… Shut doors miraculously opening and people with bright eyes and wide smiles emerging, subdued by the unseen power of the cookie scent… I love that.

Which cook doesn’t?

And there is the anticipation of the baking process itself. Baking is such a hands-on approach. Just like writing. The miracle of mixing powdery stuff with wet stuff still amazes me. Much like stirring words together into a story. How do they just work together?

With magic, my child.

The actual process of baking and writing. And the cleaning.

This might be the part where baking cookies and writing differ.

Everyone will tell you what a solitary job writing is.

It is a “leave me alone while I die” kind of activity. A self-doubting, lone-survivor, one-man kind of show.

Writing is the kind of act that makes a hero, but one no one knows. For to show up each day and do that tedious job of writing for weeks, months on end, with the only premise that one day, one day, you would have told that story that only YOU can and no one else wants to hear of right now, because only YOU know it intimately, love it, yet you are not able to make others fall in love with it until you write it – is the stuff that only heroes are made of. Unsung heroes. Writers.

The baking itself and the waiting is pretty awesome and Physical Science classes should include such experiments, don’t you think?

Mix chemical elements, organic compounds, solids and liquids, increase the temperature and prepare to be amazed.

Cleaning the kitchen is much like editing, I think. I don’t mind cleaning after we baked something, since the first wisps of that heavenly aroma begins rising to keep me company.

Editing fits right with cleaning. I find editing to be one of the most satisfying aspects of writing. Plus you get a few positive comments along the way, so craved, isn’t it? Especially after those emotionally fasting and draining weeks of writing.

How Writing is like Baking Cookies

The opening of the oven and the publishing

Usually our entire family is in the kitchen by now. Is it done yet? What about now? Plates are handed out. Watch out, it will burn. We have to wait five minutes. Ah, noooo. Okay, you can have a bit till it cools down. Yay! Love you, Mommy.

Seeing your book published is, I think, Ladies and Gentlemen, the moment we’ve ALL been waiting for since the idea for the story sparked in our hearts and minds, isn’t it?

And, Voila! Enjoy.

About Designated Survivor

Designated Survivor is a political thriller drama TV show about an obscure cabinet member who finds himself (and his family) thrust into the role of the United States president after a terrorist attack kills the president, vice president and most of Congress. What we like about it is that humanises the president and his immediate political circle. Highly recommended.

One of my favorite episodes was the one when President Kirkman went in a secret mission in Afghanistan, the location of my latest book. It was exhilarating to see him meeting with infamous warlords to determine whom he can trust to hand over territories to the United States – which is part of the political agenda revealed in my Silent Heroes novel (read the opening pages here.

Rich Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 125 g butter or margerine
  • 30 ml castor sugar
  • 125 ml condensed milk (in all honesty we used 100 ml water to avoid dairy)
  • 375 ml (210 g) self- raising flour (or normal flour and add 2,5g baking powder)
  • 80 g chocolate chips (we smashed a slab of chocolate – it was fun!)

Cream butter, sugar, add condensed milk / water and beat well. Stir in flour (if using baking powder, add it in the flour). Last, add the chocolate bits. Try no to eat (too many).

Place teaspoonfuls on a greased baking tray dusted with flour. Flatten slightly with a fork.

Bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 15 -20 min (we baked for over 30 min).

The recipe says turn onto a wire rack to cool. I say that is impossible. Have a glass of milk ready and dig in 🙂 Careful, it will be hot.

Silent Heroes
My latest book, Silent Heroes, is available through Amazon.

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9 Replies to “How Writing is like Baking Cookies”

    1. So happy to hear this, Davida. I had fun writing this post.

      Well, I can tell you this: the person who can’t resist a chocolate chip cookie does not reside in our household 🙂

  1. You know, I never thought of that perspective before, Pat. That makes alot of sense. I love the bit about writers being unsung heroes. It’s not all solitary though, because we get to meet great people like you.

  2. Great analogy Pat. I have never baked a cookie. However I once won a pie baking contest with the first and only pie I have ever baked. I got the recipe off a packet of something in the pantry, creatively added to it and called it a Zimbabwe bush pie.

    I enjoyed Designated Survivor too.

    1. Many thanks, Peter.
      But baking pies is so much trickier than making cookies!

      Your blog and work are living proofs to your creativity.I am sure Peter’s Zim pie was outstanding 🙂

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