Summer Hours

Lately, life has gotten in the way of blogging. Sigh. Plus, I have a couple of other projects on the go. So I’ve decided to take a hiatus for the summer, unless I get an irresistible urge to blog.

But even if I don’t write, I’ll need to do some research about effective blogging, because I’ve agreed to do a presentation about it in the fall.

Hopefully I’ll have lots of new material after my self-imposed hiatus. Maybe I’ll even upgrade to a website, although likely not right away.

One benefit for me is that not blogging will give me more impetus to work on the book I’ve been writing about the year I lost my dad. When I joined the LinkedIn writers’ group where I have to record my weekly word count, I posted only the number of words I’d written for my book, and didn’t even mention the number of words in my blog posts. But lately, I’ve been counting my blogging and freelance articles exclusively, and the book has fallen by the wayside.

It’s time to refocus. Have a good summer!

 

Writer’s Procrastination

A Facebook friend of mine posted a comment yesterday about writer’s procrastination. It’s extremely common, if Google is any indicator.

The first article that pops up in a search is called “Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators.” Ouch.

I don’t think I’ve ever put off writing because I was afraid the end result wouldn’t be good enough, as the article suggests, but I can think of a few other reasons.

1. My deadline wasn’t imminent, and other tasks were more time-sensitive.

2. I wanted the material to be fresh, especially for speeches and blog posts.

3. Something else captured my attention, or needed to be done first, and I was distracted for longer than anticipated.

4. I hadn’t yet figured out where to begin.

Years ago, my editor asked me about an article I was working on. I hadn’t started writing it, but it was percolating in my head. Is that procrastination? Maybe. But I think it can also be part of the process.

How to counter procrastination? A few things that have worked for me:

1. Just start. I may end up changing what I’ve written, but at least there’s something to work with.

2. Work in small chunks. 100 words, then another 100 words. And another. Usually that builds enough momentum for me to keep going.

3. Alternating tasks. Switching focus may not work for everyone, but if I put in a certain number of minutes or write “x” number of words, then switch to a different task (even a different writing task), I find I get more done. At some point, momentum builds, and I don’t need – or want – to leave what I’m working on.

4. Um, chocolate? Or whatever else works as a “reward.” To be used as needed. In moderation.

Further suggestions are welcome. 🙂

 

 

Cheeseless Cheesecake with Green Door’s Gluten-Free Nut Crust

cheeseless cheesecakeIn the spirit of Shavuot (the Jewish holiday when it’s customary to eat dairy), I made a cheeseless cheesecake this week, using Tofutti cream cheese. The recipe, on Chabad’s website, has been circulating for the past few weeks, but it’s been around for a while.

It’s become my go-to cheesecake recipe for a number of reasons. I’m lactose-intolerant, and so are some of my family members. Also, the recipe is simple to prepare (always a bonus), and it tastes and looks good.

But a prepared crust? No. Well, once. But that was an exception.

Now, instead of a prepared crust, I use a great, easy recipe from The Green Door, a vegetarian restaurant in Ottawa that has fabulous, nourishing food.

The crust is part of a recipe for Cocoa-Banana Pie that I found in my Green Door Cookbook. It’s called Rice Crust, because it’s made with rice flour. But I find more people comment on (and like) the nuttiness of the crust, which provides a nice contrast to the cheesecake. Actually, I think it “makes” the cake. But arranging fruit on top in a pretty pattern also helps.

To make the cheeseless cheesecake, go to http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/435069/jewish/Cheeseless-Cheesecake.htm. But to make it extra-special, substitute the crust below for the ready-made one in the original recipe, and top the cake with cut fruit once it has started to cool, pressing the fruit into the cheesecake.

Gluten-Free Nut Crust (aka “Rice Crust”), Reprinted with permission from The Green Door Cookbook

¾ c. raw almonds

¾ c. brown rice flour

1/3 c. canola oil

1/3 c. maple syrup

Pinch of salt

¼ tsp. cinnamon

In a food processor, grind the almonds until they resemble bread crumbs. In a bowl, mix ground almonds, rice flour, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix oil with maple syrup. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Press into an oiled and floured 9 ½ or 10-inch pie plate. Bake 5 minutes (10 max!) at 350. (The cookbook suggests a baking time of about 25 minutes, until lightly browned, for a recipe with a no-bake filling.)

Add filling, and proceed with recipe.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Follow your passion, or be practical?

Yesterday, I had lunch with a freelance writing group I joined recently, and the conversation turned to young people entering journalism school. What kind of future will they have? Are there jobs for them? Do cutbacks in media mean that only those with a *passion* for journalism are pursuing it as a career?

Does it even make sense to pursue a career if the odds of success are iffy? Aspiring actors face the same question, someone noted. And yet, I think we all agreed that without pursuing the passion in the first place, there’s no chance of success at all.

By coincidence, this LinkedIn article (“Do What You Love” Is Horrible Advice) appeared in my inbox this morning.

The subject was on my mind because of yesterday, but the article also captured my attention because “Do What You Love” is the advice my parents gave me many years ago. Not to mention that, at the time, I didn’t think it was very good advice.

As a young adult trying to figure out my direction in life, I was envious of friends whose parents were more practical, steering them toward careers where jobs were abundant.

It wasn’t until a few years after graduating from university that I discovered I had an aptitude for writing and journalism, and a passion for it too. Lucky me!

I believe there’s satisfaction in a job well done, even if it’s not your passion. I also believe that what you’re passionate about should be part of your life, even if it’s not how you make your living.

But if there’s a chance to turn your passion into a career… why not dream big? Maybe things will work out. If not, then you can go to Plan B.

What do you think? Follow your passion, or be practical?

 

 

Chocolate Sunday – Sunshine!

juliette & chocolatLook what I found in Montreal last weekend! A little chocolate shop on St-Denis called Juliette & Chocolat, with a sign outside reading, “Parce qu’une journée sans chocolat est une journé sans soleil!”

A day without chocolate is like a day without sunshine! That means a double dose of sunshine for me today – it’s a sunny day in Toronto, and I just took a flourless chocolate cake out of the oven for dinner. (Easy dessert for company.)

Unfortunately, I only had time to take a picture last weekend at Juliette, not to sample anything. However, we did have chocolatines with breakfast that day – kind of like chocolate croissants (see pictures). Very decadent.

Bon appétit!