Whether it’s cooking or writing, just follow the recipe


Have you ever pictured yourself winning “Top Chef” or perhaps the Nobel Prize in literature? Both seem equally unattainable, not to mention wildly different paths, but there’s actually a common thread for excelling at both: follow the recipe.

1. Envision the result

No matter what, without a clear picture in mind you will never reach your goal. Whether your goal is to cook the ultimate four-course meal for a loved one or to write the consummate sales proposal, you need to picture the end result.

Just think of the satisfaction your significant other gets as they take a bite of a mouthwatering filet mignon, or the reaction a prospective client gets as they read a tantalizing sales proposal.

Either way, your goal is to motivate and inspire the reader – be it to attend Le Cordon Bleu or to sign a contract with the greatest foodservice management company the world.

2. Try and observe

Expose yourself to new tastes and ideas. Do you still remember that heavenly meal you had at your favorite restaurant? Are you still dwelling over a particularly interesting article or book you read? The goal here is create, not re-create. How can you make the meal better? How can you improve that document?

Still not sure you are up to the task? Attitude is everything. If you think you can do it, you will.

3. Mise en place

Have I lost you? I hope not. This step is about getting your act together. Just as you would make sure you have all the ingredients asked for in the recipe, make sure you have everything you need for writing, too.

Computer? Check.
Research? Check.
Quiet work environment? Check.
Creative juices? Check!

Once you have all your ducks in a row, you can start leading the pack.


4. Plan of action

After gathering all the right ingredients, you need a plan. Think about it: You wouldn’t bake a cake before preheating the oven, right? I hope not.

As such, you shouldn’t start writing a proposal before you’ve made an outline.

5. Follow the recipe

A recipe – or outline, for writing – is your best tool to guide you through the process. Just follow the steps, one after the other. How much easier could it get?

6. Taste and revise

Cut Cut Cut Cut

No one makes the perfect meal on the first try, nor is a proposal perfectly written after the first draft. Revisions are necessary.

It might not be as obvious as using too much salt or too little butter, but now is the time to make changes. Is there too much detail, or not enough? Is what you’re saying important to the client?

While you may not be able to take out the extra salt you added to your dish, you can always take out all those extra words in a proposal.

Taste, taste, taste. Read, read, read. Revise as necessary.

7. Enjoy the results

There’s little in life as satisfying as that first bite after all your hard work. Be it a mouthwatering filet mignon or the proposal of a lifetime, take a moment to enjoy all you’ve accomplished (i.e., a second date/huge commission check).

Then, get back in the kitchen and start again!

Swedish Chef

Don’t be sad. We’ll be back on the first Monday next month with a new blog post. If you can’t wait that long—whether because you have a topic you’d love us to cover, a question or you simply want to throw your two cents into the pot—we love talkin’ shop, so drop us a line.

Recent Memos

Sandra Wells

How to Write Better Emails

In 1839, Edward Bulwer-Lytton said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” More than 180 years later, it’s still true. Yet, written communication is such

Read More »