Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What writers can learn from chef Gordon Ramsay

Have you ever watched Gordon Ramsay's show Kitchen Nighmares?

TV chef Gordon Ramsay takes on the challenge of turning around a failing restaurant. At the start of the program he goes into the restaurant as a diner, choosing several dishes to order.

He finds fault with each dish. The seafood's been frozen, the soup's under seasoned, the beef's too tough, the vegetables aren't fresh. He always sends all the food back to the kitchen with a scathing comment.

The next scene shows Ramsay talking to the restaurant's owner who disagrees with all of the chef's assessments. The owner always argues that the food is delicious and his restaurant is wonderful. Keep in mind, this is a failing restaurant. Yes, the person responsible can't see the flaws that are holding them back from success.

Sometimes it can be the same way for writers. They think their talent allows them to create perfect sentences formed by perfect words to constitute perfect chapters ultimately giving them the perfect book. But that's not so.

Authors often can't see the flaws in their writing. They think of a million other reasons why their work isn't making it to publication. They complain that people don't understand their concept, that agents or editors are too picky.

The reality is that they're not doing all they can to learn the craft. They're not asking for help in the form of a critique or a paid edit OR they just think other writers are jealous of their work and (again) not understanding their writing. Truly, I've heard comments like these.

The truth is that if you're failing to find success, you need to seek out help and LISTEN to advice. See that photo on the left? It's a critique I received. All those written comments are not praises, they're criticisms and suggestions on improving my skills.

The bottom line? Seek out help from other writers or paid critiques or paid edits. Open your eyes to the flaws in your work. Attend seminars and conferences, read books on craft. Learn the discipline of writing well. And above all, don't think you're the best writer on the planet.

Have you ever watched Ramsay's show? Have you seen how dumb the restaurant owners make themselves out to be? Don't do that. 

What writers can learn from chef Gordon Ramsay.


Loretta Oakes said...

It always amazed me how in the dark the owners were about their failing restaurants. However, I stopped watching the show because I think Gordon is beyond abusive and his language stinks. :)

But awesome post!!!!!! Thanks for the reminder...

Megan DiMaria said...

Thanks, Loretta. Of course I don't condone Gordon's language and behavior.

Lynnette Horner said...

This blog post is RAW!!! ;-) Seriously, it's easy to see others' blindness and not so easy to see my own. I think we all need a dose of humility in order to grow and learn.

Carissa said...

I think one of the hardest things I've ever done is put my work out there to be reviewed by others. I just finished a creative writing course for my English degree and I found the critiques of my fellow students to be truly helpful. It terrified me to have anyone read my work, but it was a necessary step forward. I can be so stubborn about my plots, but I'm under no false ideas about my writing style. My professor actually said I need to have more confidence in my work. *laughs*

But, thanks for the reminder that we all need support and advice. No one is an island, especially writers. That's why I'm collecting what feels like an entire library of books on character development, dialogue, and properly formatting plots. Gotta start somewhere!

I loved "Searching for Spice" by the way. :) Keep up the good work!

Megan DiMaria said...

Thanks for joining the conversation, Carissa. And thank you VERY MUCH for the the kind words.