Monday, October 20, 2008

Baking Burnout

"Now, Susie, roll out the dough a little bit thinner so we get lots of cookies."

My grandma added more flour to the rolling pin and demonstrated her technique. Once the dough reached the appropriate thickness, I chose cookie cutters shaped like a star, a tree, an angel, and a gingerbread man, and cut them out. The smell of butter, sugar, vanilla, almond, and cookies baking in the oven tickled my nose and made my mouth water.

The tradition continued long after grandma died. Mom and I tried new recipes. The numbers grew from 100 to over 1,000 cookies each Christmas. Days were set aside for baking. Somewhere along the line, we forgot why we baked. The joy of working together and making a few special treats turned into an exhausting chore.

Yes, I had it: the dreaded BAKING BURNOUT. It took years before I'd even consider digging my cookie sheets, cutters, and rolling pin out of the cabinet where they'd gathered dust.

When publication becomes the driving force in our lives, the exhileration of writing can get lost in the shuffle. The time we spent writing a note to a sick friend, putting together a skit for the youth group, or encouraging someone going through a problem turns into a treadmill of write, re-write, and submit.

How do we maintain our creativity and joy while traveling toward publication? What's the secret ingredient? I went back to baking not as an obligation, but as an act of love. Seeing my family gobble up hunks of pumpkin pie or dunking homemade cookies in a tall glass of milk made a difference in my attitude. I slowed down, released the have-to-do-this thinking, and started remembering my purpose.

The same principle applies to writing. When we write as an act of worship to the Lord and love toward others, joy peeks around the corner and sits down next to our computer. Instead of being self-focused, our efforts are geared to bless. The striving, stress, and frustration give way to love, joy, and peace.


Jessica Nelson said...

Exellent post! You really have a knack for tying different situations to writing.
I often wonder about when I get published, and hope I never get burned out on writing.
Glad to hear you're baking again. I made choc. chip cookies with my boys last night. They loved it. And were so cute, trying to stir that stiff dough.

Sarah said...

You mean I'm not the only one who self-edits my thank you notes? Lol!

I couldn't agree with you more. Although dificult to do, the secret to keeping the joy is remembering the purpose of this journey.

Thanks for the great post!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jessica -

Thanks for the compliment. I don't think you have to be published to get burned out on writing. I've come VERY close the last few months.

Kids love to bake. Some of my fondest memories are baking with Mom and Grandma. Her kitchen was so small that I can't imagine how we ever had room for the three of us.

Susan :)

quietspirit said...

I believe you have touched on a cause of writer's block. We forget the main reason we write. We write because God wants us to.

Sarah said...

Hmmm...I left a comment earlier, but it hasn't appeared. Maybe I did something wrong? I can be such a computer idiot sometimes.

Oh well, I was just agreeing with you about being burned out, and the fact that I make revisions in my e-mails and thank you notes before sending them out. Like people really care if I use the word "so" too many times in an e-mail, Lol!

By the way, I made chocolate chip cookies for Chris last night. What a coincidence!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit -

When the inspiration well runs dry,run to the source of all inspiration. In my own experience, my writing is directly related to my relationship with the Lord.

Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sarah -

This is the first comment that popped up. I'm glad you made a second attempt.

I wouldn't worry. You're talking to the queen of blog blunders. It took me forever to discover the preview button, so I could correct my mistakes before publishing. LOL!

Watch for my chocolate post tomorrow!

Susan :)

Praise and Coffee said...

Thank you for this post, it is very encouraging to me.
1,000 cookies!! Wow.