Is Writing like Cooking?

There are as many stories as there are dishes to cook, yet cooking and writing seem to have a lot more in common than might meet the eye (or meat the eye). Here are ten reasons why I think that writing is like cooking:

1-    Every ingredient in a dish is similar to every word in a story.  Having the right ingredients and a good recipe, though, does not guarantee success; you have to add some part of yourself to get it right.

2-    Food is food and nutritious in some way. Writing is writing and intellectual in some way.

3-    You have good days and you have bad days. In cooking, sometimes the cake will not rise, the cream curdles, or you manage to add just one ingredient that makes the whole thing inedible. In writing, sometimes the words get stuck on the tip of your fingers, the characters are as stiff as cardboard, or your language is so flowery that it could be put into the design of an English sofa.

4-    A lot of people make a living out of cooking (like in catering or restaurants), or writing (like with copyediting or advertising). But few people become famous for being chefs or writers.

5-    Fast food and ready-made dinners are easy and nice enough, but making a dinner for 10 people that you spent 3 days preparing for and everyone enjoys, is so much better. Greeting cards and other writers’ quotations are nice, too, but when you hear someone laughing at the jokes in your story, or crying at the sad scenes, there is nothing that can beat it.

6-    Anyone can learn to cook or write, though sometimes there are people who are born with an innate ability.

7-    Getting a dish right the first time is possible, improbable, but possible. But, it usually takes several tries before you get it right. Getting your story perfect from the start is possible but, it probably might require several drafts before it’s any good.

8-    Not everyone will like what you cook, the same goes for writing.

9-    There is always room for improvement, and there are always better (or worse) cooks out there. But no matter your level of skill, even the most amateur cook can make something that tastes amazing. Likewise, there will always be better (or worse) writers out there, and an unpublished or amateur writer can write a great story

10- Sitting down to discuss recipes is just as much fun as sitting down to discuss writing, at least to the people who like cooking & dining or writing & reading.

So, those were my reasons why cooking is like writing, what are yours?

Bon appetit!


23 thoughts on “Is Writing like Cooking?

  1. Every Tuesday and Thursday in my creative writing class is “cooking” day. I have created a PPT which has a variety of delectable menu options to choose from. I tell my students to think of the choices as if they were creating a tasty dish. All the same ingredients are offered, yet it is up to the individual in how they are used. Many students who are stuck in “death poem” mode have the opportunity to break out and try something new. Like switching from cheeseburgers for lunch to a pita wrap, it’s important to change up our taste buds, our writing muse.
    Happy Pages,

  2. Hi Sofia. I sincerely hope that writing is not too much like cooking…otherwise, I’m in big trouble! But, I like the analogy anyway. I love your phrase about words that are so flowery they “could be put into the design of an English sofa.” That is an image that will stick in my mind. 🙂 Also, I like #4 for putting things in perspective.

      1. That’s about right. I’m lucky and my husband is a wonderful cook, understands when I’m concentrating, and somehow just knows when to provide a fabulous meal for me. It’s not good to be cooking when concentrating on writing. Yesterday I burt toast while plotting. That always makes my man smile.

  3. #7 resonates so much right now. I am revising my manuscript and practicing a new recipe. Still haven’t gotten either quite right yet. 🙂

    I would add that with recipes and manuscripts every mistake is fixable but you may not yet have the skills or ingredients to do it.

  4. Right, it’s so loaded it almost made me hungry…. Again. 🙂
    And, with your permission, I would love to quote/use your post in my blog (two actually) that I got together for my students of English who would want to make an effort to become better writers. Then speakers, ultimately.
    Thanks for inspiration!

        1. And I actually failed to answer your question. So let me make amends. Here we go.

          All I can do is agree, in fact, as I believe that one recipe can and is made in as many versions as there are cooks. And I also believe that just like with eating (which typically comes AFTER cooking) – with eating comes appetite. Equally, writing makes you crave for more… writing, I mean. 🙂

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