(Even Though It’s All Been Said Before)
By Renate Hancock
Writing isn’t a piece of cake because we all know it isn’t. It’s hard. It takes energy, discipline, and creativity to create something fresh and engaging enough that someone else will want to read it. And you know what they say: “It’s all been said before.” So why should we bother writing at all?
Sometimes Being A Writer Sucks.
See if this sounds familiar . . .
Rule Number One: Put Your Butt in The Chair.
So far, so good. I’m in the chair. My coffee cup is brimming. My computer is up and running. My water bottle is at the ready. I’m good to go . . . for about thirty minutes. This is about how long it takes for me to realize what I’ve written seems familiar. I’ve regurgitated something I’ve read, watched, or even written myself.
This is when I’m struck by Big Truth Number One.
Somebody Has Already Written This.
This thought is quickly followed by Big Questions One, Two, and Three.
Why should I keep putting my butt in the chair? Do I have a story someone wants to read? Am I even a writer?
I remind you writing is HARD. And so far, the pay is crap.
That’s When I Remember Chocolate Cake.
If chocolate isn’t your thing, I won’t hold it against you. Substitute your favorite flavor. Lemon cake, TANGY lemon cake. Carrot cake? Sure, if you’re into vegetables as dessert. To each their own. If you say Fiadone, well . . . we might have to have a serious conversation.
Here’s Why You Should Bake The DAMN Cake. Umm, I Mean Write That Piece.
Has anyone said we shouldn’t make our own cake since someone has already baked a cake? Nope. You know why? Because most people have a strong survival instinct.
Duh, you might say. It’s not the same thing. But it is. It was an original idea at one time, and now people re-create it. They develop their own take on the timeless dessert and may publish the recipe.
Someone has even analyzed just how many different types there are and categorized recipes to prove their point. Who knows?
If it’s your story write the hell out of it. Do it. Just do it your way.
This is why we still write even though it might feel like everything has already been written.
Readers Like to Rediscover What We Love.
Chocolate cake has been around for a while. It’s not a new invention. But people keep making it. People keep eating it. Why? Because it tastes good. People love chocolate cake except for those who choose carrot cake.
The bottom line is: people enjoy savoring the flavor. We want to eat it again because it tasted good in the first place. It’s not about discovery. It’s about rediscovery.
And it’s about timing. There are times when chocolate cake is not what we need. Sometimes, it’s what gets us through the day, just like a good story. Be honest, how many times have you revisited your favorite book, TV show, or playlist?
People Are Always Hungry for More Chocolate Cake.
Don’t underestimate the public’s demand for chocolate cake. Sure, we had a piece two weeks ago. That doesn’t mean we have no appetite for another story today.
But do we want a piece of the exact same cake? No, thanks. We’re looking for chocolate cake, but we want one baked today, not two weeks ago. We love variation. It revives our tastebuds and reignites our passion for cake.
We’re hungry for the written word, too. We need something to encourage us to stop and listen. We need accurate information. We need the beauty of poetry and thought-provoking ideas.
And sometimes, we simply need to get lost in a story or a decadent chocolate cake. (Note: no one ever calls carrot cake rich, do they? Just sayin’.)
It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Chocolate Cake. Or is it?
There isn’t only one kind of chocolate cake out there. Your grandmother’s recipe might be different from the one I have in my recipe box.
My grandmother’s recipe uses sour cream. She chose it because it provided a way to keep soured cream from going to waste. My mom’s recipe calls for mayo instead of eggs because there were never enough fresh eggs.
Maybe your family likes it with a bit of chili powder thrown in. Someone else was taught to add cinnamon or a can of cherry pie filling.
Like all those cake variations, your writing holds the richness of your background in all its beauty — and hardship.
You CAN Buy One Ready Made.
And the people who make them are often good at it. But we’ve all been disappointed by a store-bought chocolate cake. So, don’t let that stop you.
You can start with a cake that doesn’t seem very different from anyone else’s. If you have the patience and perseverance to push on and go deeper, you can create a recipe that’s uniquely yours.
No one else in the world has had precisely the same experiences. They don’t have your unique way of viewing and writing about the world. As much as all our lives are shaped by universal themes, the heart of you that’s in your writing is yours alone.
We need it. Even more, we need cake. Maybe not the clown cake.
You Know There’s An Easier Way
There is. You can grab a cake mix off the shelf, stir it, and stick it in the oven. Dress it up with a bit of frosting, and serve it. Some people will eat it just because they’re hungry or like chocolate.
You can follow a list of simple ingredients for your writing, too, if you want a cake that tastes like everyone else’s. A little dry, a little ho-hum, even with the frosting on it. By tomorrow, most likely, we’ll have forgotten we even ate it.
You know what ingredients it takes to make the best cake. Maybe you’re still learning how to use them and when to add them.
Find Your Own Recipe
No one expects you to invent a new recipe. Unless your Mary Berry. But it’s easy to play around with ingredients to find a cake that wows. Experiment. Add a little spice, an extract from your own experience, your own culture, or heritage. Find the ingredient you like best to make it more moist and full of flavor. Richer.
Dig in. Keep practicing. Keep writing.
Which brings us back to Big Rule Number One. Put your butt in the chair. It may have all been said, but that doesn’t mean people don’t want more.