Why Writing is like Baking Bread

  • Assemble the ingredients
  • Activate the yeast (or feed a sourdough starter)
  • Beat and knead the dough
  • Let it rise in the right conditions so the yeast does its magic
  • Knead it a second time and shape it into loaves
  • Let it rise yet again (the final proof)
  • Bake, figuring out exactly when to remove the bread from the oven

A Writing Recipe

  1. Research. Gather the ingredients. For nonfiction works, you may delve deeply into external research. Fiction may require more introspection and exploration. The research phase often continues even as you are drafting, but at some point you have enough material to move on.
  2. Let the ideas incubate. Your brain is like the yeast organisms in bread dough, breathing life into the raw materials you’ve accumulated. Give it a chance to work.
  3. Structure the piece. Read through your notes and assemble a rough outline or other structure for your draft.
  4. Assemble the first draft. Dig in and create the first draft. You may have an unattractive mess when you’re done, but you’ll be on the path to something better.
  5. Rest before revision. Just as you would leave the bread dough alone to rise, let the first draft sit so you can get distance. “Not-writing” is an important stage of the process. Thoughts, phrases, different perspectives, and inspiration often strike as the draft rests.
  6. Revise and proofread. Revision is like the second kneading phase in bread making — vital to the quality of the result. You’ll wrestle with the piece from different angles, shaping it into its final form. A final proofreading is the finishing touch.
  7. Publish. Decide when it’s time to publish. Impatient as you may be for the final product, you don’t want to put your work out in the world half baked.

Why Bother with a Recipe?

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Author, Writing Coach, Unapologetic Nonfiction Geek. Writing about Writing Itself (very meta). AnneJanzer.com

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