Writing Is Like Cooking Some Ideas

por Raquel Almeida

Autoras: Leila de Almeida Barros e Ana Carolina Colacino de Lima (1)

Whenever we have writing tasks assigned as students, it is quite common to come across various difficulties ranging from composing processes to the written production itself: planning; brainstorming; using the most suitable structure and techniques; revising; proofreading; adding the right amount of fluency and accuracy… There are so many variables to be considered. No wonder why writing can be so overwhelming sometimes. Not only do we have to spend hours acquiring and/or expanding in details our knowledge on a given theme in order to properly assess it in writing, we also need to consider how to properly select, organize and display the essential ideas that will make our points clear throughout the production in a cohesive manner. We should also take into consideration the audience to which our text is destined to, as well as if our choices – not only in terms of language, but also in terms of structure and techniques – will be both suitable and engaging to those who might be interested in reading and building meanings from our words.

(Source: https://www.thecut.com/)

The process that involves arranging ideas, details, examples, and explanations before actually getting down to writing the text can be as intense and time-consuming as manufacturing the text itself. Many might still see the ability to write well and effectively as an inborn talent. According to scholars Paula R. Backscheider and Catherine Ingrassia (2005), in the late eighteenth century many researchers insisted on claiming that renowned literary writers were actually geniuses who possessed superior mental and social qualifications, as well as an intimate and universal knowledge of the world, almost as if the ability to write well had been acquired by them from birth. To the French theorist Antoine Compagnon (2010), this is certainly the most controversial issue inside literary studies. As time advanced, literary theorists started understanding literary works to be not the product of divinely inspired geniuses seen as the sole arbiters of their text’s meanings and themes, but rather as the result of a distinct mastery of literary techniques which had been gradually acquired through much study, practice, revision and discipline.

Understanding an analogy as a comparison of two unlike things based on the resemblance of a particular aspect, as according to the online dictionary Merriam Webster, we now propose to go through the intricate nature of writing by comparing it to an equally sophisticated and processual method: the art of cooking!

(Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/)

Writing is a process that may be as complex and long as cooking, but, in both cases, practice leads to perfection. Writers and cookers have some similarities that are worth a deeper look. Cookers have to mix different ingredients to come up with a new meal, and it may be simple, as an everyday meal that you prepare for lunch, or it may be complex, as a five-stars restaurant’s meal. So it is with writers: they gather thoughts together to build a new text, with concepts and ideas. Also, it can have a high level of difficulty as a master’s dissertation, or be as simple as a record of a personal diary. Both results come in many forms, and have different “tastes”, and as every writer/cooker may know, this is a common ability which anyone can do, but the more you practice, the better you become.

Getting deeper into the comparison, we can establish a parallel between some key aspects. Cookers with a medium experience know that they cannot mix too many ingredients; otherwise, the meal will have too much information for the client’s taste. Also, if you have already cooked multiple times, you should have been able to develop your own spice and tips. Writing is no different: you cannot overload the text with too many ideas and concepts; and, with experience, you start to build your own tone and writer’s personality.


The two processes also have similarities in the final result, concerning the “audience” to whom the product of the effort it is destined to. First looking at the cooking process, we have to keep in mind that there are different types of people who may like some ingredients and hate others. Depending on what we put together and how we do it, people may like our meal or not. Some of them, because of their level of experience, may have a more critical look into the flavors and overall composition of the plate. So it is with writing: some people have more or less experience to provide critical analysis of your piece of writing. Also, some people will appreciate your text while others will not – and when they do not like it, it may just be a matter of preference. That does not mean your text is necessarily bad, as the reader could have just personally disagreed with the ideas provided – and that is precisely what makes the process even more interesting and engaging.

Last but not least, we must look at both as continuous processes, in which constant improvement is always fostered and at stake. Writing or cooking with a few errors is normal – we are not perfect. What is important is to keep in mind the desire to produce an interesting and well-built foundation. And even if we burn our first rice and mess up our first text, we can and must try it again: just as we need food to live and stay happy our brains need writing to expand, learn ideas and stay healthy.


ANALOGY. In: COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY. Merriam Webster Online. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated [19–]. Disponível em: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/analogy. Acesso em: 22 jun. 2021.

BACKSCHEIDER, P.; INGRASSA, C. A Companion to the Eighteenth-Century English Novel and Culture. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.

COMPAGNON, A. O demônio da teoria. Minas Gerais: Editora UFMG, 2010.

FULWILER, T. A Personal Approach to Academic Writing. College writing: Third Edition. New Hampshire: Heinemann, 2002.

RAIMES, A. Techniques in the teaching of writing. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

Primeira Imagem disponível em: https://www.thecut.com/article/daily-writing-habit.html. Acesso em: 21 junho 2021

Segunda imagem disponível em: https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/03/ /608188/ Acesso em:  21 junho 2021.

Terceira imagem disponível em: https://annafitz-ux.medium.com/what-is-technical-writing-1fa47e49d7cc. Acesso em: 21 junho 2021


Leila de Almeida Barros é professora do Curso de Licenciatura em Letras Inglês da Universidade Estadual do Paraná, Campus de Apucarana, Paraná. Doutora em Estudos Literários pela Universidade Estadual Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho.

Ana Carolina Colacino de Lima é graduanda do Curso de Licenciatura em Letras Inglês da Universidade Estadual do Paraná, Campus de Apucarana, Paraná.

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