Friday Speak Out!: What Cooking Shows Have Taught Me About Being a “Hotter” Writer!, Guest Post by Jennifer Brown Banks

Friday, September 13, 2013
As a self-professed “foodie,” I find great comfort and joy in a well-prepared meal. Most folks who visit my home will attest that cooking and catering to others is a big part of my hospitality and nurturing nature.

So, it comes as no surprise that watching culinary shows is also one of my favorite past times. From Julia Child reruns, to Rachael Ray, to Martha Stewart, to Divas Can Cook, Hell’s Kitchen, Simply Ming, and a few others in between. I love to tune in and check out what’s brewing in their kitchens weekly.

Here’s the “value added” bonus: in addition to picking up some delicious, new recipes, I found that these programs have also imparted some valuable lessons on turning up the heat with my writing.

Here are a few worth noting:

  • Presentation is important. In cooking, the concept is called “Plating”. This involves having a good balance of colors, textures, portions, and visual appeal for those being served. Good writing is similar. It “boils” down to having the right spelling, formatting, grammar, clarity, and structure for editors and readers to consume our work.

  • Good cooking taps into the 5 senses. So does good writing. To draw readers in and create a more complete experience, it’s important to use vivid descriptions, imagery, richness, and colorful dialogue. This insures that they’ll come back for seconds.

  • Time management allows for greater efficiency and optimal results. In a recent episode of Hell’s Kitchen, one of the finalists was eliminated, because she failed to manage her time properly, and undercooked a pastry served to the 3 judges that unfortunately sealed her fate. Many writers find themselves in “hot water” with their assignment deadlines with editors, and important work for clients. Don’t be one of them. Multi-task. Don’t wait for the last minute to tackle important projects. And limit the time devoted to social media. Remember, “If it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense.”

  • Don't rush the process; avoid potential disasters. If a recipe calls for something to be baked at 300 degrees for 2 hours, don't try to reduce the time by placing it in the oven for 1 hour at 600 degrees. Unless you’re going for "Cajun". :-) Your creative work should be treated likewise. Prepare. Let it simmer. Revisit. Flavor to taste.

  • Resist “stirring the pot”. Simply put, don't engage in online "word wars" or the belittling of others through blog rants. You're better than that.
Even if you’re not a domestic diva, follow these five tips to feed your writing and fire up your imagination!

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Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, pro blogger, and ghost writer. Her work has appeared at award winning sites such as: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, The Well-Fed Writer, and Funds for Writers. Her site, Pen and Prosper, was chosen in 2013 as “The Power 100”--Best sites for modern writers.

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Sioux Roslawski said...

Jennifer--Great points, and you didn't "spoon"-feed us as you tried to help us make our writing "batter" when we cook up stories. (I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Karen Lange said...

These are great points, and I second what Sioux said! :) It's interesting to see how many parallels there are to writing and life. Thanks for sharing, Jen.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Delicious observations, Jennifer! Thanks for sharing. :)

PS. I consider myself a foodie as well, and dine out at least four times a week. Hell's Kitchen was one of my favorite shows until I experienced Gordon Ramsay's restaurant, The London, in Los Angeles. Let's just say I don't watch the show anymore. The food was mediocre at best and overpriced, and the service wasn't up to par. I was so disappointed in Chef Ramsay! He could take a few tips from his Kitchen Nightmares show. =/ So I guess I'd add:
- Deliver what you promise, live up to your credentials, provide great service, and make sure your meal (er, content) is tasty and easily digestible [to the reader]. ;)

Jennifer Brown Banks said...


Thanks so much for your "sweet" comment. :-)

Jennifer Brown Banks said...


My pleasure! Thanks for stopping by to add to the brew here. :-)

Jennifer Brown Banks said...


You don't say?! I would have loved to have dined at Ramsay's spot. Now.. not so much! LOL
Thanks for your thoughts.

Margo Dill said...

Well, I'm not a foodie--although I do love to eat out. But I must say that I LOVE TO WATCH CUPCAKE WARS! When I was nursing, I taped all the episodes and my husband would say, "I can't believe you are watching a show about making cupcakes." So, in keeping with the theme and my favorite cooking show, I will add that you can sometimes mix up your words and try something new--which is a remarkable success. And other times, you should just leave it on the counter, or in our case, the drawer. :)


Good food for thought.

Jennifer Brown Banks said...


You provide a good "recipe" for success here. Thanks!

Jennifer Brown Banks said...


I appreciate the feedback. said...

What a great comparison. I need to work on my "simmer" process. I always work too fast and turn my work in "hot". Thanks.

JD said...

I like how you applied "plating" to editing. Also, good writing does engage the five senses as you say, doesn't it? Good points, Jen. Thanks for this. Be well.

Jennifer Brown Banks said...

Thanks, "havetowilltravel"
Proper timing keeps us from getting "burned".

Jennifer Brown Banks said...


Glad to have you "break bread" with us here. Thanks for stopping by.

Linda O'Connell said...

Jennifer cooked up a great article.

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