About the Post

Author Information

Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

The Unplugged Toaster

When my mom was young, toasters weren’t particularly reliable or safe. They were rumored to have caught fire and burned people’s houses down. So my mom got in the habit of unplugging her toaster when she’s not using it.

Fifty years later, toaster technology has significantly improved. Unless you have a toaster perched on the side of a filled bathtub, it’s as safe to leave a toaster plugged in as any other appliance in your house. But my mom still unplugs her toaster.

The Unnecessary Loaf Pan

Mary Doe decided to teach her teenage daughter, Madison, how to make cherry chocolate cake from a recipe Mary got from her own mother.

“Where’s that loaf pan?” Mary asked, rattling around the kitchen cupboard. “The one I always fill with water and put in the oven with the cake.”

“Why do you need a loaf pan?” Madison wondered. “No one else I know puts a pan of water in the oven when they’re making a cake.”

“I’ve always do that because my mother always did.”

Madison speed dialed her grandmother. “Gram, why do we always put a loaf pan of water next to the cake pan when we’re baking a cake? Mom says it’s like some kind of family tradition or something.”

“Well I don’t know why you do it,” Madison’s grandmother replied. “I always put one in the oven because my oven rack was warped and the only way I could get a cake to stay level and bake evenly was to balance a loaf pan of water on the other side of the rack.”

The Upshot

What are the unplugged toasters in your writing? What are you still avoiding because it wasn’t safe years ago? Is it possible something has changed and it may be safe to try that now?

What are the unnecessary loaf pans in your writing? What are you doing in your writing just because you’ve always done it that way? What outdated rules are you still following? What old habits that you just don’t need any more are limiting your willingness to try something new?

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8 Comments on “Don’t Believe Everything You Think”

  1. Lori L. Lake October 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    Rosanne – my loaf pan came to light recently when I hurt my back. I’m on a book deadline so making progress on the novel was critical, but I simply could not sit in my ergonomic chair at my ergonomic desk using my ergonomic natural keyboard. I had to get a lapboard and compose from a recliner with the heating pad fired up (which is something, unlike toasters, that you SHOULD unplug when not using!).

    I thought I’d hate using the laptop, but imagine my surprise when I actually adapted to it after a couple of days. Now I *could* sit at the desk again, but I’ve continued to work out of the recliner because I am actually comfortable. It doesn’t feel like work, so I last longer and write more.

    Good riddance to old loaf pans and fire-breathing toasters!
    😉 Lori


  2. lorithatcherLoriThatcher October 5, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    I love this post. I know it’s one I will mull over again.

    My writing career has been so short, I don’t know if I’ve had time to collect outdated rules which I follow by habit, but I am learning more and changing how I write constantly.

    The rest of my life, however, is full of unplugged toasters.


    • rosannebane October 6, 2012 at 11:49 am #

      Glad to hear you loved the post, Lori, and even more glad to hear you keep changing and growing as a writer. Good for you!


  3. Joel D Canfield October 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Now I wanna go put a loaf pan of water in the oven.

    Of course, sometimes a bain-marie is critical to baking, but sometimes, it’s all about balance.

    Double spaces after periods is one of my silent pet peeves. Computer fonts manage spacing and kerning quite nicely without the double space we used to use on a typewriter. But people still do it; even people who’ve never even used a typewriter.


    • rosannebane October 6, 2012 at 11:48 am #

      I’m with you on being annoyed with the double spaces after periods, Joel. But I try not to let it bug me, because if I let my comfort, joy, peace of mind depend on other people’s typing, I’m in a world of hurt. As you said, it’s all about balance. 😉


  4. Very amusing antidote. Yes, I unplug my toaster and then put it away in what the real estate agent called my small appliance condo. oh boy oh boy oh boy

    I caught your drift too btw. Thanks for the reminder!

    Right now I am taking a course on play writing. I made a comment that went something like this. `Well, I`m here to learn the abc`s of play writing so that I can write one and break all the rules.` I was met with somewhat blank stares but feel if you were there I may have received applause 🙂


    • rosannebane October 5, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      Yippee Lesley! Of course, there are some rules worth following, but I like your attitude and don’t understand why no one else got it. Thanks for liking the post!


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