It might not come as a surprise, but I really love cooking. It’s creative, kinda messy, and you can eat the results. My favourite sort of food is the kind of big, heavy meal that sticks to your ribs and leaves you feeling warm and toasty. Usually involving something getting fried or grilled. I’m not one to go off recipes, I like to practice through trial and error. I experiment a lot, throwing in new ingredients here and there. Honestly, you can equate a lot of what I do with my writing with what I do with my cooking, except I tend to enjoy the results of the cooking more than the process, whereas with my writing it’s the other way around.
There have been a lot of comparisons made between writing and cooking, some more accurate than others, and the one that always concerns me most is the one that says that genre conventions are like “ingredients from a recipe”. Naming no names, there are places on the Internet which go to great lengths to catalogue what they think are the “ingredients” which go into a story, and people who use lists like that as a basis for writing stories.
Recipes, as much as I don’t use them in my cooking, are comprised of two sections: ingredients, and the steps required to put them together. If you don’t bother with the latter, there’s no point in listing ingredients at all. If you don’t know what temperature to set the oven, or when to add the avocado, you’re going to be standing around with a cup of flour wondering what to do with it while everything else burns or melts.
Analogies aside, you can’t write a story simply by looking at what goes into a story. You need to figure out what makes a narrative work, how things progress, and sometimes that’s really hard. But when you opt to be a writer, you’re not trying to opt for the easy way. It’s tough work, and even though it won’t get you in shape (especially not if you’re a fan of cooking as well), it’s a great workout for the mind.