What you got cooking? Making dessert first

So, now that the kitchen is all ready for Passover, I’m on to the cooking. The funny thing I just noticed is that I’ve finished making all the desserts, and even the charoset (also sweet), but have not cooked one main dish, side dish, kugel, soup, or salad.

Why my freezer is full of dessert:

My Passover desserts tend to freeze easily. If I make them ahead and freeze them, they’ll taste just as good. They tend to have few ingredients, and — with the exception of meringues — take very little time to prepare. Also, my kids were home on Thursday and Friday, and they get more of a kick from making granita or fudge than baking a chicken or boiling meatballs — especially if I let them lick a spoon or two.

It’s like a warm-up for the main event. If I get into the cooking groove with a few relatively painless, simple, and fun desserts, then preparing more complicated, time-consuming, and savory dishes suddenly seems more appealing.

Sometimes, in our writing, it’s good to start with the sweet stuff first.

When you’re having trouble getting motivated to write, pick something fun and easy. A poem, a short essay, a journal entry, and email, the inside of your grandmother’s birthday card. Choose the project you want to do, rather than the thing that you have to do. If time is a concern, you can always set an alarm.

Eventually, though, you’ll need to prepare the meat.

After you’ve got a few sweet little morsels under your belt, it’ll feel good to hit the main dish: that article or essay or web copy that is initially less appealing, but will bring in the paycheck.

What type of sweet morsel do you like to start your writing schedule with?

The Devil is in the details: why paying attention is important

-sigh-

So there I was, patting myself on the back for having a completely kosher for Passover kitchen a full 5 days before the holiday, when I sat down to dinner with the kids for their first dinner cooked in that kitchen.

I’m not so into convenience foods at any time of year, let alone at Pesach, but this year, I decided to get on box of kosher for Passover fish-stick-thingies and one bag of frozen fries. Add some broccoli, and there’s a great pre-Passover dinner, right?

Dinner went over okay. But after dinner… Continue reading

3 Reasons everyone needs sleep

While completing any major project — whether it’s a writing project or Pesach cleaning — it’s very tempting to burn the midnight oil. Sometimes it’s not the threat of missing the deadline that keeps you going until the wee hours; it’s the simple excitement of the flow state.

Just say no. The writing you do late at night is probably not your best, anyway. It reminds me of being around drunks or people high on marijuana: they think they’re being witty and hilarious, when really they just sound like idiots. Lack of sleep will leave you stoned.

You might insist that it’s worth it: you’re a night owl or you’re being courted by the muse. Okay. Maybe if you are truly a night owl, you can handle this. But then you better wake up after ten a.m.

Why? Here are 3 reasons for writers to hit the sack at a decent hour:

  1. You will not be able to function well the next day. Remember, you will have work to do then, also. Small tasks will feel overwhelming and unmanageable. For example, if you write an extra hour tonight, you might loose two or three hours of writing the next day. Or you might miss errors when you proofread because of lack of focus.
  2. Your dreaming mind may generate solutions to problems, creative ideas for your work, and gel previously distinct thoughts into a coherent whole. You don’t want to miss out on these gems.
  3. You become negative when you suffer from sleep debt. You argue. You see things with a negative spin. Rejection letters are harder to take. You respond too quickly and harshly to emails. You turn positive stories on their heads. Writing will be frustrating rather than invigorating.

And now, I’m headed to bed. Feel free to share any deadline/all-nighter horror stories you may have experienced in the comments.

Spending the day on your hands and knees

I spent this morning scrubbing the fridge, stove, and oven. I donned rubber gloves, used multiple cleaning substances — which hopefully will not kill all my brain cells — and scraped mystery goop with a toothpick. I sweated. At one point, I prayed the aforementioned stuff would just come off already!

Work that has meaning

But it was okay. Why? Because it was for a purpose. If I know that I want a kosher-for-Passover kitchen, I’ve got to work for it. If I want it finished before the kids start vacation so I can actually enjoy their company, I’ve got to work for it. And when I reach those goals, I will be satisfied and happy.

Writing is like that. Sometimes, you’ve got to work hard. Sometimes, it ain’t pretty: you’ve got to scrape out the goop and use every trick in the book to do so. But when you work hard, and pray for success, you’ll USUALLY end up with something you can enjoy. And you’ll get more pleasure from it as a result of all that effort.

Have you ever enjoyed something more because it only came with effort? Please share in the comments.

One week until seder night! How to keep focused and full of joy

Here’s today’s teeny post:

Getting through the long, hard slog with a smile on your face.

Passover is just a week away, but if you’re cleaning your house like me, scrubbing mysterious substances off of flatware and appliances you intend to use during the holiday, it can get hard to think beyond getting the house chometz-free. To get myself in the mood, I listen to lots of fun music while I clean (Jewish, classical, and jazz) and attend classes about Passover with local rabbis and teachers. I enjoy practicing singing the seder songs with my kids during carpool, and we usually read I.L. Peretz’s “The Conjuror” at some point during the week.

Writing can be hard work like that, too. What do you do — either while Pesach cleaning or while plugging away at the keyboard — to give you inspiration and focus?

New wacky Passover poetry

I’m not going to have much time to post in length before Pesach hits next week, but I’m going to try to share something small every day to make up for it.

So here’s your tiny morsel of Passover-related kookiness for today:

(throat-clearing)

You cleansed the windows of mud

And you scrubbed all the toys in your tub

But you still won’t be through

When Pesach is due

If you don’t clean chometz off the rug.

 

Free writing tip…don’t be afraid to write bad poetry. And if you’d like to share your own corny/hammy/couldn’t-hechsher-if-it-tried Pesach poetry, just add it in the comments.