Let it Simmer

by Nicole Branigan on April 25, 2012 · 0 comments

Now that's a spicy meatball.People always ask me what my best advice for writers is. Just kidding – no one has ever asked me for writing advice. Ever. And that’s okay, because the truth is, I don’t know a whole lot about writing. I don’t read enough, I don’t write enough, I don’t workshop enough (except in college – but back then workshopping was called “drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes).

Let it simmer. Let your ideas marinate in your brain before every touching a piece of paper or a pen.

I do have one piece of advice (unsolicited as it may be). My number one piece of advice for anyone writing, blogging, or journaling would be: Let it simmer. Let your ideas marinate in your brain before every touching a piece of paper or a pen. Plenty of people advise writers to carry pencil and paper with them all the time in case inspiration takes over, and while the sentiment is great, it’s not always realistic. What if inspiration strikes while you’re in the middle of the grocery checkout line with your screaming baby trying to jump over the conveyor belt to touch the buttons on the cash register? What if inspiration strikes while you’re in a public restroom (tangent piece of advice: when in a public restroom, touch as little as possible).

Frantically writing down creative lines and excerpts is a great idea for those nuggets, or one-liners that pop into your head randomly. However, if you’re planning on writing an essay, short story, or any  longer piece, let that idea simmer in your brain. Really think about each idea, what it means to you, and how you want to approach it in writing. Pretend your idea is a big, lumpy ball of dough and your brain is a pasta roller. Churn that idea through each level of the pasta roller until that lumpy ball of dough becomes smooth, evenly shaped pasta you can’t wait to sink your teeth into (your teeth would probably be your pen and pencil, or typewriter if you need more help with this metaphor).

It’s important to edit your work, but consider the value in mentally editing your ideas before you even write them down. Don’t worry about remembering them – the ones worth remembering will always find their way to paper. The next time creativity strikes, let it simmer and see how it affects the final piece.

Leave a Comment