Why a book is like a loaf of bread

I accidentally used this metaphor while speaking to a student the other day, and the more I think about it, the more it holds true. When you make bread, something miraculous happens. A bowl of lumpy gloop is transmuted into an entirely different thing- different state, different matter, different texture and taste and smell. When you write a book, the process is something similar. Chuck random elements in, apply time, apply heat, and the result will always be a small miracle (OK, sometimes very small). Most of us have the elements – though do you have enough story yeast?? – and the heat of actually doing it, but sometimes we can skimp on the time stage.

I don’t mean by this that writing a book has to necessarily takes lots of time. The faster you write, the hotter your oven is. What I mean is that it needs time to rise. When you’re leaving the loaf to ‘prove’, you don’t keep taking it out from under its tea-towel and fiddling with it. You don’t start kneading it until it’s risen. Then you knock the air out of it and leave it to rise again (I shall rise again!, it cries). But for a certain length of time, it has to sit alone in a warm dark place.

What on earth does all this have to do with writing? Well, I think your book also has to sit in a warm dark place for a while. Keep adding to it, but don’t start kneading until the dough has a chance to prove (don’t be kneady). Let the idea bed in a little and that story-yeast have time to…I don’t know, what does yeast do? Ferment? So this means- don’t talk about it too much. Don’t take on board feedback until later. And absolutely don’t delete things or make changes. Give the loaf a chance first!

This week I’m giving away a free sampler with extracts of my next two books, plus some never-seen extra scenes! To get it just sign up for my newsletter here – www.ink-stains.co.uk 

For some slightly more coherent writing thoughts, you can check out this video of my top ten tips.

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