Anyone who enjoys cooking or baking, or even preparing food just because they have too, has their favorites–utensils, appliances, gadgets, etc. In this post, I’ll discuss some of mine, and would love to hear both your thoughts on them and some of your favorite items.
I’m a big believer in learning how to use a proper knife, and almost always cut things up by hand to maintain that skill. Although I haven’t used a great variety of knives, my favorite so far have been a set of Miyako ceramic knives, purchased at least five years ago, maybe more, and a few paring knives from Pampered Chef. These are the sharpest knives I’ve used, and the Pampered Chef knives have a coating that helps keep things from sticking.
Although I only have one of the Miyako knives left (the 8-inch), it is my go-to knife for cutting things like herbs and small greens which can elude other knives. The only downside to the Miyako knives is that the joining with the handle can wear–the small paring knife was re-glued before breaking in a fall to the floor, and the santaku knife came to a similar fate. The blades themselves are highly durable.
The Pampered Chef knives are relatively new, and I’ve had them less than a year, but they are great and I enjoy using them.
You might ask what this tool is, as I did when I was first looking for one. It is a tool used to juice fruits such as lemons or oranges. DH got me a beautiful olive wood one for Christmas last year, and I highly regret not getting one until then. It takes mere seconds to juice half a lemon. Let me repeat: seconds. Considering how much I enjoy citrus, I love this tool so so much.
Rice Paddles and Spatulas
At the most basic level, rice paddles and spatulas are my basic go-to items for stirring and mixing of any kind, whether in a bowl or a pan on the stove. I love a multi-purpose implement, and these are two of the most versatile in my kitchen. What’s not to love about that?
Small Food Processor
I have two food processors, but if I can possibly use the smaller one, I will. Quite simply, it has far fewer pieces and is thus much easier to clean. Not to mention it doesn’t take up nearly as much space. The one I currently have had belonged to my great aunt. Although I’m not sure she ever used it, it became mine when she passed away, along with a few other things. Not only do I sometimes think of her while using it, it’s way more convenient than the large one.
My other favorite thing is a nice whisk. I’m not sure exactly why, but the ones with the metal handles just make me happy.
Some authors can sit down and write without interruption, a style of writing which is very fluid and steady. I’m not one of them–especially with pen and paper. I find myself getting caught up in this or that idea; trying to find a name, facts, or that thing I read three weeks ago on brain chemistry which has now become relevant to a situation in the story.
Being somewhat easily distracted has caused me to find ways to troubleshoot such instances so that I can write more fluidly in the moment, and I’d like to share them with other writers. Please note that these tips will not address writer’s block, which is a different matter all together.
1. Missing Information
Many times, I most often find myself stopping because I need a piece of information, such as a name, hair color, or a tree that grows well in a given environment. Things that require research. Unless this information will prevent you with moving on with the story, the best thing to do is leave a pair of brackets.
- I went to ’s house that day.
- Russ pushed hair out of his eyes, it was  when not full of dirt.
- Jax paused at the edge of the forest, under a small  tree.
Later, go back and fill in that missing information.
Sometimes, I’ll come back to a scene where I’ve decided, since the last session, to change the setting of a scene. Other times, something that happened will have changed. Instead of going back and fixing everything there, leave a note that explains the change that has occurred. Go back and fix the previous passage later. When writing on a computer, do something to make these notes stand out–some kind of brackets, bold text, and colors are helpful.
- This scene is now in the garden. Update previous passage accordingly.
- Matt’s group decided to track down the mercenary instead of rest at the inn; drop or move previous passage accordingly and skip to this paragraph instead.
This is especially useful if your first draft is usually with pen and paper–you can fix it when typing it up, which is the second draft.
3. Lack of Character Understanding
This is a larger problem, but can be overcome by moving to a different project rather than stopping your writing. Usually, this will come up when you are starting a new project, or have added a new character to your cast. You go to write a scene, and realize you don’t know what the character will do or say at a certain situation. The answer here is to do some exploratory writing.
- Write about the character, even if you have to start with a personality description or personal history
- Explore some things in their daily life
- Add something unexpected that will force them to make decisions, display character, and show you who they are
There are no rights or wrongs here, and outside of your main story you can play around with situations and see what you like and what the character does. Do not consider this lost or wasted time; it will allow you to go back to your main project and move forward. It is your job as the writer to make sure you know and understand your characters well.
4. Be Prepared
If you know you will be working on a certain scene during a session which may require research, you can choose to do the research beforehand and have your notes at hand. If you’re working with a little used character, pull up their character sheet before you get started. If you have a wiki, you can have that off to the side as well.
- Have needed information readily available
- Copy/paste descriptions you may already have on hand, and edit as needed
- Wiki’s can be very helpful, but don’t get engrossed in updating them until after you’ve finished your writing section.
The use of music in writing is more nuanced than you might think. Don’t simply listen to music you like. Try to find specific pieces that fit what you’re working on and will keep your mind there. Be knowledgeable of what’s in your music library so that you can find what you want when you need it. I personally find that wordless music such as soundtracks and production music work much better than other types–it tends to focus on a feeling or mood and doesn’t have distracting words. Many of my character themes, however, do have words.
- Pick specific pieces for specific scenes and characters
- Any important character should have more than 1 theme–people are complex
- Avoid music that distracts you while writing
- Create playlists for projects or characters
- Focus on pieces that create the setting or mood of a scene
Don’t be afraid to try new music, because you never know when a piece will inspire you to write something to go with it.
So there are 5 easy tips to help build and keep fluidity in your writing sessions. Do other things work for you? Do you have other questions you want answered about writing? Please leave them in the comments.