I’d rather just skip a meal if I can’t think of what to make or I don’t have something easy already prepared.
Hmm, sounds a bit like my writing habit at times. If I don’t have an idea, a first line, an image…something to get started with, then it’s easier to just leave it to another day and skip a valuable bit of writing time.
I don’t really have time to waste in the kitchen or at my writing desk so I happened upon the idea of “Meal Prepping.”
Everyone Is Doing It
There are bloggers galore who espouse this method of making a batch of food, portioning it out in containers that you store in the fridge. Then, Wednesday afternoon in the middle of a busy day, you can just pull out your container full of arugula, baked tofu, some edamame, and peanut sauce and enjoy a pre-made lunch. (Hah! You think I really eat that healthy?!)
Meal prepping is all about planning ahead, cooking food for several meals at once that you can reconstitute into slightly different formations throughout the week.
What if we could do that with our writing?
Sometimes when I am at my writing desk, a steaming cup of tea by my side, and my fingers ready to dance along the keyboard…my brain is empty. I have no prepared containers that I can simply pull out to use as writing starters.
I love reading food blogs and perusing recipes. But it does no good to collect a bunch of recipes if you don’t have a plan to use them.
The same can be said of writing. Whether you’re working on a blog or a book or a sales guide for your colleagues, a little planning can go a long way. Plus, I think this type of planning can help you find even more connections between your writings, your thoughts, and where you should put your focus next. Here’s how it might work:
Meal Prep usually features a grain, protein, lots of veggies, sauce or dressing. You make some rice, roast some chicken and vegetables, make a tahini sauce and boom! you’ve got the elements you need to make slightly different (or the same) meals for the next few days.
What if you said this week I’m going to prep some ideas around note-taking, writing, and software. In your Roam Research graph-or your bullet journal, Notion, Word, or trusty notebook-you brainstorm some big ideas, umbrellas under which you can branch out and explore some more pointed ideas. Now you have a collection of puzzle pieces that you can fit together in a couple different ways. This is when you’ll see the outline of an article begin to emerge.
When your morning writing time on Wednesday rolls around, you open up your list of “starters,” and immediately you are back into the thinking track you had when you made the notes. The essay is already halfway there.
How I Made This
Last week in my Roam Research, I put in the headline “Meal Prep Your Blog Posts” and then made a bunch of incoherent notes underneath. Then almost every day since, I have added to those notes.
This final article includes maybe 20% of that pre-writing, which is my process. I have to “think” my way through an idea by writing around it until I can begin to see the shape of the story.
That other 80% of pre-writing? Some of it I may use somewhere else, and some of it will live forever in my idea bank. It’s not wasted prose by any stretch; it’s thinking made real.
Now it’s your turn. Take the next five days to collect your thoughts around a theme or an idea. Put everything down—no pre-judgment.
On day six, open up that list of thoughts and see what fits together. Look for an opening or a narrative line that connects them.
Next, sit down, grab your cuppa joe, and put your meal together.
Tell me tools you’re using for note-taking and writing? Any tricks you can share?
Photo by Toa Heftiba