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Why I Need Creative Outlets Besides Writing

Sunday, November 13, 2016 5:45
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Cooking allows me to express myself through a variety of foods.

I enjoy creative writing. That’s no secret. But over the years I’ve discovered it’s also a good idea for writers to have other creative outlets besides reading and writing. They can help you decompress, mentally work through stresses and issues you may be grappling with, use different areas of your brain, and, in some cases, work their way into your writing projects.

Exercise has always been something I’ve tried to keep up with, but in the past year, I’ve also taken up two new hobbies that are letting me be creative in ways I never imagined.

The first one is cooking. A few years ago, I started following a local blogger who ended up writing a cookbook that ended up as a New York Times bestseller. Her recipes focused on cooking with whole foods so I felt good about the dishes I was making. The editor in me couldn’t quite leave the recipes “as is” and you’ll find Post-it notes stuck to various pages with notes like “add more salt,” or “cut the chili power in half,” or “double this recipe so you’ll have leftovers.” Lately, I’ve gotten even more creative with the foods I make, probably thanks to me discovering “Chopped” and “Chopped Junior” on the Food Network this past summer and binge watching episodes on Netflix. I especially favor Mexican-inspired dishes (my homemade guacamole finally convinced my husband he liked avocados) and Italian meals. Now I throw around phrases like “flavor profile,” “composed dish,” and drop hints to my family that things a glass salad dressing bottle would make a great stocking stuffer.

I also joined the chancel choir at my church a few months ago. I’ve always loved to sing, but never found many ways to practice it in between writing, editing, cooking, and driving my kids back and forth to their activities. Now it makes me feel good to have choir practice once a week (something just for me) and learn choral pieces I’ve never heard before. It gets me out of my head and my house (sometimes I need a little nudge in that area) and forces me to work with others to create a cohesive program.

It dawned on me today that these two activities work well for me because each time I do them, there is a clear start and finish. Once you begin cooking a baked good or dish, you pretty much have to follow through to the end. The same thing goes for singing in a performance in front of an audience. This may be why other outlets don’t work so well for me—things such as sketching, coloring, or crafting. It’s too easy for me to set them aside (not unlike my short stories and novels) and never finish them.

Do you have any other creative outlets you enjoy? What are they and how do you feel they help you?

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Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who has recently discovered a love of cooking and unearthing quick and healthy recipes. You can get an idea of some of her culinary adventures by following her on Instagram at @rlroberson.

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