Writing Post for Day Five – Count Your Blessings To be Alive
Keeping a sense of perspective and humour amidst all the gloom and doom can be difficult but for mental health – and physical as shown by the fights in supermarkets – it is necessary.
Many people are doing their bit online – sharing jokes, funny memes, clips of singing, dancing, live performances of every creative art and hints, like mine, to ease the anxiety and stress of being cooped up while in quarantine or working from home.
Working at home doesn’t necessarily mean you are alone – especially if children are home from school. Perhaps the only time alone will be in your head! Put those thoughts to good use, focus on ideas (the more positive the better), grab a notebook, and write.
This post is about writing recipes, not for food or cooking. There are plenty of free recipes for that on the Internet and I’m sure with the panic buying and shortages there will be a host of new food recipes doing the rounds.
Not to mention books: How I Survived Covid19 When The Pantry Was Almost Bare…
(I could write that one because I refused to panic buy and with a compromised immune system I’m avoiding the queues in shops!)
Humour & Love Is Needed
I started with my Dr Seuss inspired poem written in a lesson about rhyming poetry to grab your attention. I mean who doesn’t know or love Dr Seuss?
But now, here are some ‘rules’ or suggestions:
Eight Steps For Writing A Recipe To Lift Your Mood
- What would your ideal day consist of? Jot points down – often a list is a good format – or maybe even start with the same introductory phrase: Each day I’d love to
- Now make a mind map. In the middle of a blank piece of paper write ‘My recipe.’ Here is an example of a mindmap from the Internet from ResearchGate:
- Now describe your ingredients. Go through them one by one
- All recipes specify quantities for every ingredient. Add these to your ingredients on the mind map.
- Try adding similes or metaphors to make your recipe more interesting and imaginative.
(A simile is a comparison of one thing to another using the connecting word ‘as’ or ‘like’, a metaphor just is and doesn’t need the introduction. For example:- When my first daughter was born a popular song at the time was ‘A Little Ray of Sunshine’. If I was using a simile, she’d be like a little ray of sunshine, but with metaphor, she is my little ray of sunshine. A subtle but important difference.)
- Method of Preparation – it’s your recipe so explore, be daring, be innovative – give readers a window into your soul…
- Serving Suggestions are necessary, of course:
(Add a ‘garnish’ to your recipe, these are the finishing touches that present a dish to perfection.)
- Add a title – What word or feeling would sum up your recipe? Try and keep it relevant and short. Or call it like it is:
A Recipe For A Good Mood
Mairi Neil (2016)
a chorus of Mary Jane’s chuckles
an eyeful of Anne’s excitement
a cacophony of birdsong
a dash of possum
a snuggle and lick from Aurora
a strong trace of walking on the foreshore
a breath of rosemary and lavender
large helpings of writing time
a ladle of television murder-mystery
unlimited cupfuls of English Breakfast tea
a glass of cider (or two)
a shower of sunshine
a whisper of an autumn breeze
a turntable of favourite music
a reflection on the love of family and friends
Add liberal dollops of Mary Jane’s infectious laughter
Organise Anne’s surprises to drizzle at intervals
Enjoy Aurora’s daily cuddles and friendly licks
Encourage the possums to nestle in the trees
Welcome the magpies’ morning trill, the butcher birds’ songs,
the wattlebirds’ chok-chok and the doves evening coos.
Wait for the aromatic profusion of rosemary, lavender, geraniums
and roses and rainbow colours of seasonal displays
Embrace the sea air and lapping of waves
Mix and serve daily, in no particular order. Whether sunshine or rain this recipe has my personal guarantee.
Try writing another recipe with different ingredients or write a recipe for a friend, a family member, based on what that person likes:
Or perhaps a recipe based on current affairs (especially if you have a solution to the current catastrophe – remember we’re focusing on a good mood but absurd is okay), the perfect holiday, a travel experience…
**And if you are not into poetic -style recipes whatever is stirred up and remembered can be written in prose – another life story, or piece of fiction!
There Are Benefits To using A Mindmap To Brainstorm Ideas Before Writing
- A mind map is a diagram that uses words or sketches to note ideas linked to a central keyword. (This is often called theme in creative writing. A piece of writing can have many themes but often there is an overarching one.)
- A mind map gives you the opportunity to explore many different concepts and shows the process of developing them. There is no limit to size – if you want to be expansive grab a sheet of butcher’s paper!)
- Mind maps are useful for generating, visualising and organising ideas. They are often used to make decisions and solve problems in the corporate world, but for creative writers, we generate ideas for stories or poems, and to recall memories.
What Does Your Ideal Day Consist of?
Prepare the mindmap –
- Favourite season
- Favourite sounds
- Favourite time of day
- Favourite place
- Favourite colours
- Favourite hobby & activity
- Favourite weather
- Favourite smells
- Favourite animals
- Favourite books
- Favourite films/TV shows
Use whatever interests you, add extra categories.
Write examples next to all or chosen categories – there may be more than one answer. (Go with your initial one perhaps)
When describing your ingredients go through them one by one.
What words would you use? Think of associations with your central ingredient and write them around that. Think of descriptive words that you could use along with similes and metaphors.
Let your mind roam freely, don’t think too hard or edit yet. Try not to judge one word as being better than another at this stage.
Repeat for as many ingredients as you wish and if you use the senses in the description it will help to make your recipe poetic.
This is a Recipe For a Good Mood, rather than a recipe for food, but all recipes have measurements – some are exact like half a tablespoon of sugar…
In your recipe, measurements don’t have to be standard. You can use traditional measures but be creative and add more inventive indications of quantity.
A small amount could be –
- a pinch,
- an echo,
- a thought,
- a moment.
A large amount could be –
- a pound,
- a mountain,
- a shout,
- a deluge.
Think of other ways we measure things, such as time, space, height and distance.
Here is a list of words for measurement (some traditional, others not) – you can add more in the comments:
- pinch of
- suggestion of
- shower of
This recipe is about feelings, therefore, make it as richly descriptive as possible.
Similes add depth to a description. eg. A summer’s evening as soft as velvet
Spring blossom falling like snow
If your ingredient is A tranquil summer or A Quiet Summer Day/Evening
Think about comparisons: What things are quiet? for example tranquil as…. a soft wind in the trees, a sleeping mouse (or any pet), an owl in flight, a swan gliding…
Rather than repeat the description of ‘quiet’ twice, choose different words to mean the same thing eg.. A sprinkle of quiet summer, tranquil as an owl in flight.
Do this for one or two ingredients, not every line because you can defeat the impact of the mood you want to create.
•There’s no right or wrong way to approach your method of preparation.
- Write out the list of your ingredients onto a piece of paper.
- What will you mix your ingredients in?
- In what order will you add them?
- Is there a special way they need adding?
This is where you can grab one of those recipe books off the shelf that you have stopped using because it is easier to Google but you haven’t thrown them out because of an emotional attachment, they were a gift, or sometimes it is quicker to check a page than wait for Malcolm Turnbull’s oh, so slow, NBN to download.
Check out the instructions on a favourite recipe and substitute your ingredients:
- vigorously beat,
- fold in gently,
- stir slowly,
- sprinkle liberally
- beat with a fork
You might put a fractious toddler in a large garden and lightly whisk a sprinkle of quiet summer….
Look at the methods of preparation from the list below or choose your own:
Garnishing & Serving Suggestions:
Add a ‘garnish’ to your recipe, these are the finishing touches that present a dish to perfection. You may like to think of it as the cherry on top of your Recipe For a Good Mood
- Serve with a sprig of stories and a warm feeling.
- Garnish with a cuddle from a sister and enjoy with a relish of friends
- Best enjoyed with a glass of Cider
- Serve with optimism and chocolate cake.
You can say how many people it serves – perhaps the ‘recipe poem’ is for a special celebration – birthday, anniversary, wedding, christening…
Add a title. What word or feeling would sum up your recipe? Try and keep it short.
Fun, Warmth, A Giggle, Feeling Blessed, Chilling Out…
Write Your Recipe For a Good Mood –
prose or poetry!
And here is a bit of history in a recipe book – a selection of pages of a book put together on my kitchen table for Mordialloc Primary School as a fundraiser in the 90s.
Most parents contributed a recipe, and some helped with surveys and collection and encouraged their children to illustrate. Some of the data is worthy of a time capsule!
There were no computers, no money for offset printing and the book was divided into sections, with bits of general knowledge and current research regarding food sprinkled throughout.
The aim was to encourage harmony, tolerance and an appreciation of each other’s culture and it worked – families had fun contributing and we learnt a lot about different countries and foods.
We even got a review in the Herald Sun – not bad for a wee school and complete novices. You never know where your ‘kitchen’ creativity will lead!
2 thoughts on “Writing A Recipe For A Good Mood”
I love that piece about ‘preserving a relationship’ in the MPS book:)
I have been tweeting these writing lessons so that more people can find them. I’m hearing anecdotally that people are running around online looking for things to do, but not actually doing them yet because their heads are not in a good place right now… even keen readers are saying that they can’t read at the moment. But I think (hope) that the panic and fear will stabilise and soon people will adjust and then they will find these ideas from you immensely valuable.
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Thanks Lisa. I’ve checked on some of my past students, many at high risk because of health or age and I know they are attempting some or sharing them with others who have been in writing classes now cancelled. I’m having fun anyway, clearing clutter and reminding myself of lots of fun session in class😘 that book I put together for the school a case in point. I still use some recipes and considering it was done by “mums” on my kitchen table, not a bad effort.
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