buckwheat buttermilk waffles

What do you do when words don’t come?

How do you speak when you don’t know what to say?

These are questions you start to ask yourself sometimes, whether you’re communicating with people around cubicles or in classrooms, on the phone or at the table, as old friends or among new acquaintances.

And honestly, it’s never more apparent an issue than on the Internet, when you blog. Read any blog for some stretch of time, and you’ll hear the author mention it, whether they’re asking themselves whether or not to keep blogging every other day or lamenting when the words don’t come or, like I did a few weeks ago, just stepping back to take in for a while.

buckwheat waffles

How should you handle these stretches of silence? How do you keep talking when it isn’t easy? Some say push through it, say what you can right now, keep talking until something makes sense.

Others say to wait, wait for the words, wait for the right way to say them.

And I think it’s funny how these responses parallel reactions in real life. When you’re in an argument, when your friend does something to upset you, when you don’t get the job or the date or the answer you were hoping for, what do you do? How do you deal with it: immediate reaction or slow response? Which is better? Which makes sense to you? I’d guess that your answer to this mirrors your answer to dealing with writers’ block. Do something now = write through the uncreative moments. Wait and process = take some time away.

buckwheat buttermilk waffles

It’s interesting. And thinking through these things recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that just as my blog reflects my life in so many other areas, so it should in this one. I like to process, think through, wait for words to come on things. And so that’s what I’m resolved to do here.

When the words come, I’ll share them with you, and when they don’t, I’ll just be listening. There’s no schedule, no deadlines, just the opportunity to put down thoughts when wanted. The alternative would be giving up—just like I’ve started and ended blogs before, just like I’ve lost touch with friends—and I like this place too much to do that yet.

So for now I leave you with waffles. Buckwheat waffles. Do you know buckwheat? A few of you pointed out it’s gluten-free, as well as related to rhubarb (crazy!) and that it gives things a sort of funny gray color. If you’re like many people, you might have had it in pancakes, so waffles aren’t a far stretch. And listen to me: buckwheat waffles made with buttermilk and topped by fresh blueberries, bananas and pure maple syrup are pretty fantastic, as are learning life lessons, like, you know, knowing when to speak and when not to.




Buckwheat Buttermilk Waffles (with blueberries and bananas!)
Adapted from Kitchen Therapy

Ingredients:
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 Tablespoon raw sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 Tablespoons oil

Directions:
Preheat waffle maker and preheat oven to its lowest setting.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (flour through salt). In a separate medium bowl, combine all the liquids (buttermilk through oil). Then add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour batter into waffle maker and cook according to machine directions. As each waffle is finished, you can place it directly on the rack in the preheated oven to get a little crispier.

If you’re cooking for one (like I was), just save the leftover waffles in the fridge or the freezer and toast them later for a snack! I like mine best topped with pure maple syrup, butter, fresh blueberries and chopped bananas.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. Danielle

    Well said Shannalee. It’s hard to decide which route is better – to push through or pause – but I think with creative endeavors like writing especially, it’s important to have a balance of both, so that you don’t lose the joy of writing/blogging. I’m more an advocate of the “pause and think” approach, so I’m looking forward to reading your words when they emerge :)

    And those waffles are too tempting – I had deliciously good fresh waffles recently that got me thinking about a waffle-maker….I just need to convince my husband about that idea :)

  2. Hannah

    Take your time, Shanna. We’ll be here when the words come.

    This issue you’ve written about here, that’s exactly why I don’t schedule posts on my blog. I want to do it because I love it, not force myself when I just don’t feel like it. Words don’t come to me easily at all, so I have to take my time.

  3. Lauren

    Thank you for this Shannalee. I needed to remember this. Busy has been an understatement lately, which has almost forced out the words. The words will come, exactly when they’re ready and when I’m ready. Thank you.

  4. Lisa

    It seems like many people are having this issue lately

    It’s funny that you mentioned how one’s blog generally mirrors the way they live their life. At first I thought I must be the exception because when it comes to writing I think it’s best to wait it out and the words will come in due time but in life I generally jump to quick conclusions and don’t take my time to think out my words. I just spit out what I have to say without necessarily thinking it through. This is really a terrible habit and many times, even immediately after I hear myself say it, I wonder why I said it because I don’t even agree with it. Of course, I came to this snap decision without thinking first because if I thought about it for a moment I would have realized that [up until now] my blogging style has been exactly inline with my life -completely regimented sometimes to the point where the things I want to do are no longer fun anymore.

    Sometimes we just need a break, even from the things we like to do, to regroup and refresh mentally. As simple as that sounds it can be the that’s also the hardest thing to recognize. So take your time, we’re not going anywhere – just promise me you won’t give it up altogether ;)

    P.S. – I was SOO excited when I saw that you linked to my post! :D

  5. Jenious

    I didn’t write a post last week and a friend texted me last night, “you on a blog break?” I had to laugh. I sort of was. Didn’t think anyone would notice though! I also was waiting for the words. They came round tonight. I find reassurance in this post. Thank you for letting me know I’m not the only one out here, grasping for the right words…

  6. Sue

    I’m usually a very rash person (verbally)- talking when I should be listening… blabbing when I should be thinking… SO, I hardly have found the balance there! But, I’m learning to just take life a little slower. Some things can wait, right? Miss you, friend- wish Chicago wasn’t so far away!

  7. celeste

    You encourage me as always. I have changed blogs a couple of times. I am a foodie at heart and my blog starts, well intentioned but then I find myself wanting to talk about something else or not at all.
    More “food’ for thought.

  8. Shannalee

    Thanks, Ashley!

    Danielle, Pause and think sounds like a good compromise and one I will work towards. Thanks for sharing that!

    Hannah, You’re such an encourager. It is nice to hear that from you, especially because I love your blog. You’re right on with wanting to blog because you love it. Me too.

    Tim, Thank you!

    Lauren, Indeed they will. Right when they’re supposed to.

    Kendall, Thank you so much!

    Lisa, Of course I linked to that post – it stuck with me because I so got it! And I liked reading your thoughts as you processed them here a little – it’s good to work through these things and find what works for us, you know? We’re learning together. :)

    Jenious, Ha! I have been there. Thank YOU for giving me the empathy of understanding. It is nice to know we’re not alone.

    Aw, Sue, I think that all the time. Wish wish you were here. So much.

    Celeste, Oh I’m so glad! Food for thought indeed. And ps – YOU have encouraged me so much. Truly.

  9. Linda

    What a pleasure to find a link to my recipe, thanks. And a topic that has touched me personally. I used to always post twice a week. Then I got cancer and chemo. Now I post when brain fog receeds and I am able. It seems like such an accomplishment. Readers have been very supportive, that is rewarding.

    And a recommendation for your next road trip to Madison, WI. Muramoto. There are three restauarants, my favorite is the sushi restaurant at Hilldale.

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  11. Jenn

    Gorgeous waffles! I absolutely adore the flavor of buckwheat. As for writer’s block…I’ve adjusted my blogging schedule – when I first started I tried to post every day. Now I allow for some time between posts, time to sit and think about /edit what I’ve written, and I think overall the result has been an improvement. My bigger issue is “cooking block”, where I just want to make all my favorites that I’ve already posted and not make something new – I’m starting to learn I don’t have to have a recipe every time either :)

  12. Gemma

    Good philosophy, I ‘m sure you have noticed that I’m a pauser by now?! Now I just need to learn not to beat myself up over it… The waffles look fabulous but I will have to admire from afar – I cannot justify a waffle maker!

  13. Liz

    I needed this post. Right now, I needed it. I often find myself wondering the same thing. Wondering how to keep up something that I love while struggling to not only find words, but be comfortable sharing them. It’s funny, because since I was 8 I was on the stage, sharing a craft with the world… but when it came time to really branch out and explore what I had to offer inside, I was terrified. Now that I’m getting used to it, I find words come easier, but they certainly don’t come everyday and I’m wondering how important scheduling is in this world, or if it’s better to tell everyone to just be patient and learn that good things can come from waiting.

  14. Evilyn

    Love the post. Especially when you ended with a great recipe – I’d have to try it sometimes.
    I do, however, believe there is a moment when you “have” to say something even words coming out of your mouth isn’t right. Oftentimes when I look back at the situation when I just stumbled and kept my mouth shut, I wish I said something at the moment.
    But a distraction from food & making food is always a paradise for me. Thank you!

  15. Megan Gordon

    Sigh…Shannalee. After reading your posts, I always kind of feeling like picking up the phone and chatting with you about them. I think if we lived closer we’d be fast friends! I’m a big pauser myself as well–I like to slowly process things and see what unfolds. And I think your approach is perfect–everything we are choosing to do should be fulfilling in some regard or give back in some way, right? I used to blog at least twice a week and find myself down to about once a week just because I like it to feel right, meaningful, fulfilling. Not fluffy.

    And so funny b/c I’ve been planning a waffle post for about a week now. Must be something in the air…Happy almost weekend :)

  16. kate

    I’ve been blogging for nearly four years. I sure do know about these issues. And within the last year or so, I’ve only put words down when they come. With allowing the muse to direct itself, I create posts that almost write themselves. There is no agenda, no specifications. I get an idea of what I’d like to talk about, and then my brain just basically writes with little help from me outside my fingers. If it isn’t there, so be it. I’ve tried to force myself to write and it’s nothing but messy words. I learned my lesson.

  17. Shannalee

    jacqui, oh you really are the most encouraging blog friend ever. it was good to talk about these things with you the other night (and of course to roast chickens!)

    Linda, I am so sorry to hear about what you’ve been going through and I have so much respect for your ability to still blog when the brain fog lifts. :) And thanks for the Madison tip!

    Nikki, Thank you so much!

    Jenn, It is good to hear about other bloggers who’ve gone through this/are going through this. Thanks for sharing. And for what it’s worth, I love repeat recipes, as long as there’s a story or a variation or, I don’t know, something to make it new. It’s your blog – you make the rules!

    Gemma, Definitely don’t beat yourself up over it. We’re all with you. And I’ll be reading!

    JessieV, Thank you and thank you for your faithful comments here!

    Sarah, You are sweet. Thank you – I am honored to hear that.

    Liz, I’m so glad this hit you where you needed it. It is true that there is good in waiting. I am learning that, too. Here’s to learning when to wait and when to speak and when to do both.

    Evilyn, I like the point you brought up. It is of course true that we can’t ALWAYS wait. Sometimes it’s just necessary that we say something, however imperfectly. True.

    Megan, Well now that is exactly my reaction to EVERY ONE of your posts but I’ve never been able to articulate it that well. And if posting once a week is the key to writing like yours, I am sold.

    Jessica, Buckwheat is actually not a grain but from the same family as rhubarb. And it gives things a slightly grayish color that is interesting. Try it!

    Allison, I love that you find the color whimsical.

    Kate, Good to hear. That’s where I am at and I am learning too.

  18. Amanda

    just the words i needed to read about blogging. very wise and full of perspective in a way i hadn’t thought of. i am a perfectionist, and when i ‘fall behind’ on blogging, i tend to give up on it altogether.

    i have not tried buckwheat yet. you’ve inspired me!

  19. Jenn Sutherland

    Seems like all the bloggers I regularly read are having this same feeling – is it the warmer weather luring us outside, is it our impatient waiting for the bounty of local produce to come? I don’t know precisely, but yeah, I’m thrilled every time I read someone else say that they’re taking the pressure to publish off, or writing when the words are there.

    April was my lightest month of blogging in the two years since I’ve been posting, and you know what – I’m okay with that. I’ve got some big things shaking at work, and am training for a half-marathon for the first time. Life is busy. And my readers are hanging with me, and don’t seem to mind the lighter publishing schedule, and I’m sure your community is the same!

  20. Kasey

    What a beautiful, heartfelt post. I often find that I when I’m in a bad mood, I still have to power through my self-imposed blogging schedule. And while the words come, I feel like my real feelings can be masked. I’ve started taking a step back, too. I think I saw you Tweet something earlier about everything being only temporary. The words will break through :)

  21. Shannalee

    Thank you so much, Alisa!

    Amanda, I think I am a perfectionist, too. I mean, about some things at least. About wanting to be perfect (like I could!?) and about getting frustrated at my failures. I definitely know what you mean about wanting to just throw in the towel rather than do less than 100%… but there is such comfort in knowing you feel that way. We’re all just kind of doing what we can with blogging, and that’s part of what’s great about it.

    Jenn, Training for a half marathon? You have my empathy and admiration. I mean, there’s me, wrestling between rest or blogging… and there’s you, running miles in the double digits. You win, you win! I’d say that’s as good of an excuse as you’re going to get.

    Kasey, Oh, thank you so much! Wise words and very encouraging. Really.

  22. julie

    I love your honesty here. I completely agree with your line of thinking here; it is better to write when the words come and the time is right instead of just putting words on a page for the sake of posting.

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