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  • Chris OBrien

Sneaky good writing advice from the "Ball® Canning: Back to Basics" book

I think writers should get into a bunch of different hobbies. Especially if you write fiction. This way your characters become more diverse and you don't end up with stories about writers, and screenwriters, or the struggling novelist.


"Trying out new hobbies" ends up becoming a fun new hobby. You don't have to stick with any of them. Learn a little bit. Move on to the next one.


A hobby I'm currently testing out is canning; as in canning tomatoes and, hopefully, making my own (somewhat edible) pickles. I picked up the Ball Canning: Back to Basics book from the Near North Library in Chicago and started reading it on the 36 bus heading home. In the intro chapter I saw an incredible passage that secretly doubles as great writing advice.


Here it was:


Canning your own food is truly a balance of art and science, one that fosters a reconnection with what's important, whether it is time spent with family and friends in the kitchen or the satisfaction of cooking up something special that speaks to your sense of creativity and self-sufficiency. It's also a way to take back control of your pantry. You can feel good knowing exactly what's in every jar, because you picked it, cooked it, and canned it yourself. Whether your inspiration is in the creation or the preservation, the result is always pure and authentic.


Notice, there's nothing about, "And you could make your own BBQ sauce, your own pickles, and start selling those!" "You could make a bunch of money!" "You could be the next big thing." No. None of that is necessary to throw in. The writing team at Ball focused solely on the experience. The practice of canning fruits and vegetables is meaningful enough, it doesn't need profits attached to make it worthwhile.


I looked at the paragraph again and thought, "Huh, I wonder what it would look like with writing swapped in there instead."


Let's take a look:


Writing is truly a balance of art and science, one that fosters a reconnection with what's important, whether it is time remembering stories about family and friends or the satisfaction of cooking up a work of fiction that speaks to your sense of creativity and self-sufficiency. It's also a way to take back control of your time. You can feel good knowing you didn't spend another hour scrolling through social media. This is YOUR story, because you wrote it, reviewed it, and revised it yourself. Whether your inspiration is in the creation or the preservation of stories, the result is always pure and authentic.


Wow. Thanks for the boost, Ball. Couldn't have said it better myself!


Alright. Back to my other hobby.

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