I made muffins last week as a relaxation-not-staring-at-my-phone activity. If you know me well, you know I don’t really like to cook with recipes, but when it comes to baking I do. Except, I usually never have all the right ingredients on hand.
For instance, I wanted to make the Smitten Kitchen’s perfect blueberry muffins but the recipe called for a few things I didn’t have: yogurt and baking powder
I had all the other things, though, and so I went to work mostly following the recipe. I made substitutions where I needed to (I’m pretty good at substituting things in baking). And voila, blueberry muffins that turned out perfectly fine.
Substituting is a good skill to have in writing, too. You won’t always have exactly what you need when you sit down to write. Forget a word? Talk around what you’re trying to say, you might even find a way to say it better. Missing a character that will help move the plot along? You can make them up as you go or add them in on the next draft.
There’s no recipe for the perfect anything. Perfect doesn’t exist, it’s a weird construct that doesn’t matter. What does matter is making something perfect for you – whether it’s whatever you have in the fridge or whatever you can think of off the top of your head.
And you know what helps those connections? Giving your brain a break. Go do something that isn’t writing, isn’t scrolling, and isn’t a screen. Use up that one ingredient in your pantry that you never know how to incorporate. Go for a walk in the opposite direction you normally go. Make a house of cards out of the uno deck from your childhood.
If you’re wondering what I subbed in for the missing ingredients? Almond milk for the yogurt, and apple cider vinegar for the baking powder. I added the vinegar into the almond milk and let it sit for 20 minutes to make pseudo-buttermilk and the vinegar in the now almond buttermilk reacts with the baking soda I did have. It all worked. Science and all that.