My grandma shared her expertise as a baker. She drilled me in the basics of using quality ingredients, measuring, rolling out cookie dough, and baking each confection for the right amount of time.
She never trusted her oven fully, but always tested cakes with a toothpick. If it came out wet and sticky, she closed the oven door and set the timer for another five or ten minutes. When the toothpick came out clean, she pronounced the cake done.
This reminded me of my writing ideas. Too often, I take them out of my "brain oven" before they're ready.
Several years ago, I wanted to put an experience down on paper. I tried to write a poem, but it didn't work. The writing "toothpick" came out, and I could see it was half baked. I then attempted an article. Once again, the results were unsatisfactory.
One day, Beloved had an epiphany as we talked about my idea. "That's it! That's your book!" I thought he'd gone crazy, but then caught the vision. I toiled over my first draft. Unlike the other projects, this came together. I'd discovered the right vehicle for my idea.
When you've got some tantalizing idea, but can't seem to figure out what to do with it, set the "timer" for another ten minutes. You may be surprised the direction you end up taking.
How do you know when your idea is half baked or just right?