What Does an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Got to do with Creativity?
No, this isn't a recipe post. This is a creative criticism intervention post!
I caught a glimpse of a necessary lesson after making these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and I thought it might be good to share it.
First, the idea to make the cookies was out of total impulse and motivation to do something different that I hadn't done in a while. Something on the creative side. I always uphold this as being something good for creativity! Second, my type of cooking, baking although had been a point of ridicule in past relationships, I learned to enjoy my own way of getting things done in the kitchen. Third, anytime I go in the kitchen to prepare anything, I usually come out feeling very content.
This time, I was overly critiquing every little thing during the process and it was too obvious not to notice. It went a little sometime like this-
"Ugh, I wish I had regular chocolate chip mix instead of oatmeal chocolate chip."
"Ugh, all your mixing bowls are dirty, now you have to find something else to mix it in."
"Ugh, the expiration date is super close, are you sure you even want to make these?"
"Ugh, mixing the batter is tiring using a regular spoon."
"Ugh, why haven't you bought one of those big wooden spatula spoons?"
"Ugh, why haven't you bought a mixer?"
"Ugh, I can't wait to hurry and get these in the oven?"
"Ugh, the shapes look horrible on the pan?"
"Ugh, I hope they don't burn at the bottom?"
"Ugh, the bottom looks like it's too crispy?"
"Ugh, some of these cookies are breaking!"
"Ugh, damn crumbs fell between the stove and counter!"
"See, I knew I shouldn't have made these!"
"I KNEW I was not cut out for cooking and baking!"
"This is BS!"
Have anyone else been here? At some point I was so annoyed at my own self! But here are the facts about what went down in the kitchen last night-
- I found a non-stick pot to use for mixing.
- Although my hand were tired, I was still able to mix the batter well enough with a regular spoon.
- The shape of the cookies turned out fine.
- The bottom of the cookies turned out fine.
- The oatmeal chocolate chip actually tastes BETTER than when I make the plain chocolate chip version.
So basically, I criticized every part of the process so much that I didn't enjoy the experience at all. Yeah, the cookies tasted great and that was a relief, but I knew if I didn't take a moment to reckon with why I made the process so difficult, I would miss a valuable lesson.
Here's the truth...I really didn't WANT oatmeal chocolate chip cookies 😂.
I had already set the tone for an apathetic approach to baking. Instead of being thankful that I had a cookie batter to bake, I was stuck on it not being exactly what I wanted. Still, it was what I had so I could have simply said, "Next time, I'll be sure to grab an extra set of chocolate chip cookie batter. Today, I will make the oatmeal chocolate chip." I mean really, it's not like I don't like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, otherwise would not have bought it. Or good grief, just go to the store and buy some chocolate chip cookies already baked!
It would have been easy to stop and say forget it, at any point of the nagging I was doing in the process. Sometimes when we aren't paying attention, our minds run the show seemingly all on its own. You'll be in the middle of working on something and feeling aggravated. This is the right time to pay attention to what you are thinking!
There are so many lessons anyone of us could pull out of this, one being if I had washed my mixing bowls the night before I could have eliminated at least one nagging issue.
But, to tie it to creativity, especially if you are struggling already with allowing yourself to reimagine what creative time and energy looks like for you, I want you to imagine for a moment that creativity was an actual person you are building a relationship with.
If creativity were your partner in the kitchen (or at the easel, if you are artist, or on the page if you are a writer), and every time it showed up you were nagging and grinding your teeth at every part of the process because it might not be going the way you want it to go, would you want to keep showing up?
Creativity actually loves exploration and learning. When we show ourselves a little more appreciation and grace and give ourselves space to make errors and learn from them, creativity will keep showing up and it will also kindly show us where we can perhaps prepare better prior to starting and how to adjust if needed during the process so we get as close to the results we desire.
If I had not taken the time to reflect on this baking moment, I would have missed the cool lesson creativity was trying to teach me. I probably would still be pouting and aggravated but thankfully, that moment has passed.
Now, I'll get back to eating my oatmeal chocolate chip cookies😉!