Let Gordon Ramsay Be Your Personal Writing Coach
One of my biggest inspirations to get sh*t done is the world-renowned chef and celebrity restaurateur, Gordon Ramsay. If you've ever watched his shows—MasterChef, Hell's Kitchen, or Kitchen Nightmares, to name a few—you'll know that he gives zero f*cks about excuses and always cuts immediately to the chase:
Sometimes there are tears, swearing matches, or chefs walking out after Gordon criticizes their inedible or lazy food. But slice through all the expletive-laced, hilarious made-for-TV one-liners ("My gran could do better, and she's dead!") and you'll find a Gordon who really only cares about one thing: inspiring chefs to be honest with themselves and make the best food they possibly can.
Even though you're not a chef, you can still use Gordon's no bullsh*t approach to better your writing. Here are a few ways you can channel Chef Ramsay and the chefs he torments molds into beautiful cooks to become a better bloody writer.
Drop the Ego
The first thing you'll notice while watching Gordon on Kitchen Nightmares—the show where Gordon visits failing restaurants in an attempt to save them—is the massive size of most chefs' egos. Not only is the restaurant they're heading about to go under, but they're using pre-packaged food in their recipes, and there's usually some chicken that just left the kitchen very pink.
None of that matters, though, because the chef, who's leaning back on his workstation and casually examining his nails, will explain to Gordon how he's the best chef in town and really has no idea why Gordon is even at the restaurant with a camera crew.
Of course as writer—and like these chefs—we want to think we're the smartest, funniest, sharpest creatives in the whole world. Why would I need editing? I'm a genius! But the truth is, we're not all genius writing fairies who simply don't need editing or help fleshing out our vision.
That's why, from Tolstoy to Rowling, every great author has been through multiple, necessary rounds of edits with their books. It's a natural part of the book writing process, and will ultimately help you write a better book.
You honestly never know what you might be overlooking, and the right editor can help you take your indie book from good to great. And if still you find yourself opposed to editing, let this be your new writing mantra: "Editors are not the enemy—my ego is."
Read Your Manuscript Aloud
Without a doubt, on all Gordon's shows you'll find chefs who don't taste their food before presenting it to him, because some people clearly just want to watch themselves getting screamed at on the telly.
As you can imagine, Gordon's reaction is never along the lines of "Aw shucks, you should always taste your food, darling!" After he takes a bite of the untasted dish, he sets his fork down with zero emotion on his face and no eye contact.
"Did you taste this?" he asks, his cold voice sending a shiver throughout the room, and subsequently, all the way through your Hulu account.
"No," the chef says, condemning him- or herself to an eventual send off.
Just like these chefs, you need to "taste" your own writing before sending it off to print. Of course, you shouldn't literally take a bite out of chapter four, but read your manuscript aloud so you can get a feel for what's working and what needs to be reworked.
There's a certain rhythm to writing that's not always apparent when you're typing, and there's really no better way to spot typos, tangled phrasing, and overused words than a verbal dive-in. Try it out solo and with an audience, or have a friend read it for you so you can take editing notes. You'll be shocked at how much this will help your manuscript.
Write for Your Target Readers
The group challenge episodes on MasterChef require that the chefs work in teams to cook for large crowds. Gordon and his team designed this challenge to test the cooks' ability to work as a team and, most importantly, prepare appropriate meals for their expected guests.
One particular challenge on MasterChef Junior (must-watch television) had a team of kids putting together a menu of all too-spicy foods for a group of children. Since the average kid normally won't eat spicy foods, the team had to rework all their dishes in the middle of the high-pressure challenge to fit the wants and needs of hungry kids.
Just like chefs need to prepare meals tailored to their guests, you need to write for your target readers. Join a writing group, get involved in local readings, or have beta readers who love your genre or subject review your work. Ask them to point out chapters they love, confusing passages, and areas that could be fleshed out a bit more. Getting their insight is invaluable to writing a book that will catch the eye of more readers who love your genre, and will ultimately help you gain more traction as an author. And—if you're lucky and work really hard—you might just become the Gordon Ramsay of your genre.
Katie is a social media & advertising strategist.