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Writing At The Speed Of Chocolate

I worked at a chocolate shop a few years ago. And, yes, it was as lovely as it sounds. The team was wonderful, the place smelled incredible, and it was just plain fun getting to make the treats and drinks in-store.

Covid-19 cut my time there short as the store had to close its doors. To say I miss it would be an understatement. I was hired as a seasonal employee and had been made officially part-time approximately one week before the mall we were located in announced it would be entering a temporary shutdown that lasted longer than anticipated; the chain I was at, meanwhile, shuttered its locations permanently several months after. It's the past job I spend the most time wondering about, thinking about what could have been had it remained open.

A lot of the things I learned working there have carried over to my own kitchen—and other aspects of my life.

Writers are vastly different from one another in pretty much every aspect you can think of. We all have our preferred genres. Some get up at dawn to get the words down while others are more inclined to write by moonlight. There are overwriters and underwriters, Plotters and Pantsers and the Plantsers in between—you get the idea.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that every writer develops their own pace. When NaNoWriMo rolls around, we may love the challenge of penning 50,000 words in only thirty days just as much as we're intimidated by the very idea of churning out just shy of 1,700 words per day.

You may also hear of authors managing to publish books annually or even every couple of months and are blown away by their speed—and feel like you need to catch up.

Writing is not a competition, and certainly not a race. Stories take time to craft. With so many phases in the process from first draft to publication, it can take a while. Years, sometimes.

It's not uncommon for writers to be told that they have the same twenty-four hours as anybody else, including full-time writers. That's not exactly true.

While some people can write and publish more rapidly, that's not the case for everyone. It's rare that someone can be a full-time writer making a steady income on their writing alone; they often have other streams of revenue coming in such as brand partnerships on a monetized platform, Patreon or Kofi patrons supporting their work, or offering services like online courses or editing packages. There may also be other non-writing contributions at play.

For the average individual, writing has to be made secondary to day jobs and other obligations regardless of how passionate they are about the craft. Their aspirations are relegated to a hobby, squeezed in where possible.

Additionally, nobody, not even the full-time writers wholly able to support themselves on their writing alone, is not absolved from illness or emergencies that interfere with even the most staunchly established routine.

There is nothing wrong with setting your own pace as a writer or writing quicker or slower than another writer. We all have different things that work best for us.

Chocolate is actually a great example of this idea in action.

Making chocolate, like publishing a novel, involves a number of steps.

I'll include a quick video for anyone interested in a crash course on chocolate production. >>>

For today's post, we're focusing on tempering.

This happens towards the end of the process and has two purposes. First, on the chemical level, it prevents the chocolate from melting at room temperature or in your hand by stabilizing the various molecules and crystals. Second, tempering is what gives finished chocolate that nice shine. If melted too quickly, you risk the chocolate blooming.

In some contexts, 'blooming" is a good thing, synonymous with beauty or coming into one's own. But in the chocolatier sphere, it refers to chocolate that looks dull and has whitish striations and freckles all over it—though not inedible, it's not visually appealing.

Now, I know what you're thinking. What does tempering chocolate have to do with writing, exactly?

Simply put, and cliche as it sounds, you cannot rush perfection. Trying to speed up the writing process can have it blooming in its own right.

Speeding through things can result in "blooms" readers will notice straight away. This can include unfilled plot holes, inconsistencies, and spelling errors slipping under the radar to name a few. Even if the idea is enticing, blooms might lead your reader to pick up a different literary treat.

But blooming is not as simple as not hastening the process. Tempering chocolate varies depending on the type of chocolate being melted.

Milk, white, and dark chocolate each temper best at different degrees and also melt and set at different speeds depending on different factors. Dark chocolate, for example, needs the hottest temperature for tempering and firms up the quickest.

While these are all chocolate, they're different types of chocolate and require different conditions for successful tempering.

Just as there are different types of writers who work best at different speeds. Some writers thrive during NaNoWriMo and succeed at writing a novel-length work in the span of a single month. Others need a little more time to churn the same wordcount or prefer to go slower.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

You're still a writer, no matter the size of the strides you're making towards the finish line or how quickly you work there.

Take a breath, let it go, and go at the pace that best suits you. That's how your writing will truly bloom.

And this time, I do mean the good sort of blooming!



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