Sunday, October 30, 2011

Common Characteristics of Creative Processes

Otherwise titled Baking Bread and Writing Novels

I love baking artisan breads. That’s something you already know if you follow me on Facebook or have read a few of my blog interviews. Baking bread is a hobby I picked up early last spring. I found an article in Mother Earth News magazine that caught my attention. Other than using my bread machine, I’d never baked a loaf the “old-fashioned way.” But I tried this easy recipe and the next thing you know, I was hooked. I bought several books on various bread-baking techniques and I took off experimenting, mixing and matching the various recipes and methods. Knead or no-knead. Slow-fermentation in the refrigerator or over 12-18 hours sitting out. Sour-dough (there’s another story).

You know what I discovered? Start with flour, throw in a little yeast and enough water to make dough and voila, in a few hours you can have the aroma of a bread baking in your home with no more effort than that.

Next I found myself baking bread, trying a new recipe or perfecting an old one, when I should have been working on my deadlines. I say deadlines in the plural because I had overlapping deadlines. Two books due within a few weeks of each other.

But I found that I needed bread-making as a creative outlet—that following a recipe or concocting my own, kneading the dough into a soft ball—actually stimulated my creativity. In that way taking time away from writing to make a loaf of bread (which honestly can be time-consuming) helped me to meet my deadlines. It helped me to be more creative with my stories.

Since I’m a writer, I'm often coming up with analogies or ways that one thing is like another. (Okay, that statement just made me think of the song from Sesame Street). So, how is baking bread like writing a novel?

To write a novel you start with the most basic ingredients—a blank page and writing instrument. (computer or pen/pencil)

To bake bread you start with the most basic ingredients—flour, water, yeast.

I love that in both instances you can start with simple ingredients, bare essentials, to create something wonderful. That's how baking bread and writing a novel are the most alike.

Is that a stretch? I don’t think so. I’m considering writing a few future posts about baking bread and in some cases tying that to better writing or life in general.

I’d love to hear your thoughts—if that’s something you’d like to see.


Anne K. Albert said...

Writing, like baking bread, requires time for the yeast to kick in and transform a sometimes gooey mess into something delicious. I like the way your think! :)

Btw, when your next loaf is done, could I have a slice? I can smell that incredible aroma from here!

Beth Goddard said...

Yes! That's it exactly--that's a great analogy, too. And there are so many more but I didn't want to overwhelm in the post.

Thanks for stopping by, Anne!

Janet Lee Barton said...

Love this post, Beth. I too, love making bread and cooking in general. I've had some of my best ideas come to me while stirring a pot on the stove. But the bread analogy is right on as far as our writing goes!
Thanks again for visiting my blog this weekend!

Beth Goddard said...

Thanks for having met, Janet. The interview was great fun. Hope we got lots of entries for Freezing Point. I appreciate your help in promoting that book! We've got to help each other.

Donna said...

Beth, I love the word picture you created here between baking bread and writing. I pictured you sitting at your kitchen table, the smell of bread baking, as you add ingredients to your next WIP. Blessings!