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.”
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 What outdated rules are you still following?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?