My last post to this blog was in June of 2016. My second most recent post was published almost a year before that, in July 2015.
I think it’s safe to say I’ve been struggling creatively. With motivation, with finding time (–scratch that, making time), with sitting down and just doing the work.
It’s a lot easier to make time for things when you’re in college and, barring a couple classes a day, your time is basically at your disposal. Sure you have assignments to complete and reading to do, but you more or less get to decide when and where that happens. Once you start working a 9-5 job, it becomes a lot more challenging to set aside time to bake, photograph what you bake during hours when there’s daylight (especially in Minnesota where for a good 2-3 months of the year it’s dark both when I arrive to and leave work each day), and then upload those photos and write a post.
I’m not making excuses. I’m just trying to rationalize, I guess. Think through why something that used to be a creative outlet for me started to feel like a creative chore.
There’s also the whole inferiority complex that’s gotten under my skin in the last couple years, due to the rise of Instagram and the curated lifestyle of the professional blogger. My pictures are never going to turn out as well as those, I think. Everything I’m baking has been made before, by someone with more talent, a nicer camera, and a more beautiful kitchen.
I slip into the trap of feeling like there’s no point in creating when there’s dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands, of bloggers out there doing it better, faster, with a much larger audience.
I don’t come to you today with a solution. I am still very much in the grips of those feelings. But I want to fight them. I want to get back to a place where blogging about baking is a creative outlet. Where baking itself is a creative outlet. I haven’t been very creative in the kitchen in a long time, and often weeks go by without my even pulling out a stick of butter. I used to bake at least once, if not twice a week! I’m known in the office as “the baker,” but I only bring in baked goods once every few months.
Do you have any advice for fighting back these feelings and getting back down to the core of what motivates you to create?
I’m taking a step today by writing and publishing this post even though the pictures aren’t that great and it isn’t an original recipe. Even as I was taking the photos, I heard the voice of criticism the whole time: The white balance is off. You don’t even remember how to work your camera properly. Look, you’re switching to your iPhone because it’s easier. The lighting is all wrong. You’re not even using any props. What are those angles? These photos are boring. And bad.
But you have to start somewhere, and my leading theory about creativity is that it is a muscle. And like any muscle, it gets stronger the more you exercise it.
Also like physical muscles, it weakens in double-time if you don’t use it. (What is that about, anyway? It’s so obnoxious how you can work your butt off in the gym and feel validated when you actually start to notice improvements, but if you take even three days off it’s like poof! back to having noodles for arms.)
This is me exercising my blogging muscle. It’s like getting back on the treadmill when you’re months out of shape. It’s hard, and kind of embarrassing, and you have to try really hard and fight the urge to step off every single minute. (This metaphor brought to you by me hating running.) But doing it once makes it a little easier to do it again the next day. And the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
I hope, anyway.
I made brownies this weekend. The recipe came from my mom, who forwarded it with glowing praise. She doesn’t actually forward recipes to me very often, so I decided it was worth a try. I’m always game for a good brownie recipe.
These fudgy brownies have a secret ingredient. It’s what makes them so super fudgy. Can you guess? Here’s a hint:
You guessed it! Avocado.
Two ripe avocados replace butter as the fat in this brownie recipe. You puree the avocado guts (mm, guts) with melted chocolate, sugar, almond flour, cocoa powder, and a couple eggs.
That’s something else about these brownies – they’re gluten free. If you care about that sort of thing.
You combine the ingredients in a food processor until smooth, and then pour into an 8×8 pan and bake. Making brownies out of avocados sounds like it should be complicated, but really it’s not much more difficult than making brownies from a box.
Brownies are reliable like that. Simple. Unfussy. As easy as you need them to be.
While the brownies are cooling, you mix up a fudgy frosting. More of a ganache, really. It’s made out of coconut oil, maple syrup, cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt. (I forgot the salt.) (They were still delicious.)
These brownies have a lot of wholesome ingredients in them. We’d be kidding ourselves if we said that they’re healthy though. There’s too much chocolate and sugar in them for that to be true. But if you’re going to eat chocolate and sugar anyway, this is a slightly more virtuous option that can soothe your super-active January conscience. You know, the one that succumbed to clicking on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop January Detox plan even though you think it’s dumb and pinches you every time you reach for the box of mini peanut butter cups your coworker gave you for the holidays.
But you know what?
Screw healthy brownies anyway. All brownies are healthy for you on a good-for-the-soul level, and that kind of healthy is way underrated. Especially in January.
Talk soon. I hope.