7 Things I Learnt About Writing from MasterChef Australia

Masterchef Australia is one of my favourite shows on television. I don’t watch the other editions (Masterchef USA or Masterchef India) but the show with chefs and judges Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris, Matt Preston is one I have followed for a few years now.

It’s not just an entertaining show but also a great source of learning, especially for something completely unrelated to cooking – writing!

On second thoughts, maybe not that unrelated, since the show has taught me some incredible things about life, and writing.

Masterchef food

Here are 7 things I’ve learnt from my favourite show –

  1. Never Give Up.

You know you’ve lost the battle when you give up. Even in the last minute, miracles happen and things fall into place, making it all worth your efforts. If you give up halfway through then you’d never know, will you?

Often in the MasterChef Australia competition, it so happens contestants are facing defeat because they aren’t performing well. Their dishes aren’t coming along as they wanted and they start to lose faith. They feel like quitting. But they don’t. Instead, they draw on that hidden reserve of determination that each one of us has and they start afresh with renewed energy to make a dish they can present to the judges. This learning works for writing too. Writing is frustrating. It is annoying. It is emotionally draining, especially when you’re writing about something that affects you deeply. Doesn’t mean you’ll give up. If anything, one should channel that negativity into writing. Because quitting isn’t an option.

  1. Believe in yourself first.

In the show, the contestants are often put to challenges they have never attempted previously. For the initial few minutes, it is frightening. But the transition from ‘I can’t do this!’ to ‘Can I do this?’ to ‘I can do this.’ is so quick, that it is inspiring. They believe in themselves and they quickly plan strategies on how to succeed at preparing the dish expected of them.

Believe that you can, only then you will. Let self-doubts fuel your efforts to strive harder. When I began writing, I had no idea how it would turn out. I wasn’t even sure whether I was making the right decision or not. But I knew this – that I wanted to succeed, and that drive inspired me.

  1. Accept criticism.

Writing is tough. Most writers put out a piece of their heart through the words. It needs courage to do that, especially when writing about something personal. When something criticizes our writing, it not only hurts but can also be very damaging to our self-esteem. And that’s the reason why most writers are so sensitive to criticism.

The show is a wonderful example of how to take criticism well. The contestants resolve to do better next time. They share what they thought would work for their dish, and why it didn’t and how they could have done better. It is a revelation to see them accept criticism with such maturity and that taught me a lot about accepting criticism for my writing too.

  1. Embrace Failure.

Another important lesson that I’ve learnt from this show is to accept and embrace failure. Every time there is an elimination round, one contestant goes home. And every time that happens, they put up a brave smile and share how that last cook taught them something and that they are going home feeling proud of what they’ve done so far. They talk about what their plans are what the future. The ‘learn from failure and yet look forward to the future’ is an important mantra the show has given me. And not just writing, this also applies to life.

Let the fear of failure never pull you back from trying new things, taking risks and exploring the unknown. I’ve failed in doing a lot of things, even since the time I started writing. But I accept the failure with the learning. I tell myself that, ‘It’s okay. One tries, doesn’t succeed, and moves on.’ Maybe I’ll try that again later, maybe I won’t. But that failed attempt is a part of me, and I am proud to have tried.

  1. Forgive yourself.

In the show, contestants are quick to forgive themselves for their mistakes and failures. And when they don’t, the judges remind them to do so.

They tell the contestant, ‘Don’t let the mistakes overwhelm you’ or ‘Don’t beat yourself up too much about mistakes or failure. Look at how much you’re already done.’

There isn’t one person in this world who hasn’t made mistakes. Some of them are huge, life-altering while some may be small, careless mistakes that proved to be a learning. Each mistake is a lesson in disguise on how not to do something and hence another step closer to doing something right. Doesn’t this apply to writing too?

  1. Adapt quickly.

Often contestants realize the dish they had envisioned is not coming out the way they wanted it to or that they don’t have a critical ingredient. Sometimes, the judges don’t like the idea of what they are making. That’s when they have to scrap their original plan and come up with something completely new.

This happens in writing too. Often you feel that what you’re writing isn’t coming up as expected, or a beta reader would tell you that it didn’t have the desired impact on them. You may have to change a few elements here and there, or completely overhaul the whole piece. Don’t lose heart, for often the new dish/short story turns out to be better than the original.

  1. Have fun in everything you do.

A lot of the difficult challenges are conquered by the contestants when they give up worrying completely, go with the flow while trying to put in their very best. They also have fun in the process. That’s when the whole dish they are preparing falls into place and the taste of the final dish reflects the love and care that went into preparing it. Much like writing – the best write-up comes out when you enjoy what you’re writing.

What have your learnings been from your favourite TV show? Do share your thoughts and comments via the comment box below.

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