Reasons Why Writing A Novel Is Not Like Baking A Cake

August 18, 2010 at 5:34 am (Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

I promised I would go back and look at why writing and baking must indeed be two totally separate events are not anything alike. So here goes, my list of why writing a novel is not like baking a cake.

1.  It takes a lot longer – unless you are the world’s slowest cook and you aren’t worried about your eggs going off. The time commitment you are making for writing a novel compared to making a cake is enormous. One is something you do on the spur of the moment because you are bored and it’s raining (or because of some event like someone’s birthday) while the other is one that should almost never be jumped into without at least a little thought.

2.  If you follow the recipe for baking you will end up with a half-decent cake (hopefully). However there is no recipe or magic formula for making a brilliant novel. There are basic plot outlines and various tools and break downs of the essential elements and some genres are formulaic however if there was a step by step manual to writing a best seller, everyone would be doing it.

3.  Cake mix tastes pretty good even if you don’t finish cooking it. A half-baked novel is just that – half-baked.

4.  Even if you don’t like the taste of your unused cake mixture, chances are someone else will or the dog/cat/whatever will eat it. Very few people will swallow an unfinished novel.

5.  Nobody stares at you strangely when you answer the question, “what are you doing?” with “baking a cake”. Unlike when you answer that question with “writing a novel”.

6.  When you finish baking the cake you may criticise it but odds are you aren’t going to pull it apart and try to fix what went wrong. There is no revision process. There is accept what you have or throw it out and start over. The novel is a bit more malleable.

I still like my reasons why writing a novel is like baking a cake but I think it is important to be thorough.



  1. Cruella Collett said,

    Haha, great list! Maybe this is why procrastibaking is one of my favourite activities when writing seems just too much…?

  2. Carol Ann Hoel said,

    Interesting contrasts of writing a novel and baking a cake. The differences are as numerous as the similarities! We may whip up a cake but we must pour our labor fluidly and generously into our novels hoping for a prize-winning mixture. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Glynis Smy said,

    Lol, I hope I am better at writing novels than I am baking cakes!

    Author Blog: Glynis Smy

  4. Miss Rosemary said,

    I like numbers 3 and 4. So very true, and frustrating for writers. You can’t half anything with your novel, but sometimes the best part of the cake is the batter …

  5. Lynn Rush said,

    NICE!!! So true. I can’t begin to count the number of strange looks I get when I say, “writing a novel.” LOL.

    Great post.

    • Hart said,

      LOVE that last one! I’m not a big fan of baking, and I love writing. I think it may be because of I’m a marathoner (not literally)–I love long projects and nicking away. I especially love that mistakes can be fixed… the outcome can be tweaked. I love the mutability of it.

  6. AlexJ said,

    #5 is so true.

  7. Carol Kilgore said,

    Love #6. I’m editing now, and pulling it apart is my job description.

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