Monsieur Point’s advice for creative people.

April 21st, 2008

Fernand Point was talking about chefs, not creatives in general, when he said this:


Every morning the cuisinier must start again at zero, with nothing on the stove.
That is what real cuisine is all about.

Yet the moment I read this, I thought of the connection to writing and my own overtaxed agenda — or, as I ought to say, my own overtaxed mind.

The perfect writer would approach the empty page each day with a clear mind and a clear conscience, taking advantage of all that had been learned before, but without being burdened by the results of previous efforts. This is true whether those results were good (which otherwise might create pressure to top them), bad (which might discourage the writer), or mixed.

Creative individuals in command of the creative process improve their skills from day to day, neither forgetting their experience nor being burdened by it. Like a great chef, they take the ingredients that come to hand in season, then apply their acumen to transforming those ingredients into works of art or craft.

But when creators allow the tides of life to overwhelm them . . . fluent creation becomes impossible. Skill is blunted by anxiety. Technique hides under the counter while doubt rages.


It is far better then, for artists of all stripes to follow M. Point’s advice to cuisiniers: they should approach their empty kitchens again each morning, rubbing their hands together in anticipation for what they will cook up today.

(Thanks to 37signals for the quote from Point; kitchen photo by ddaarryynn.)

2 Responses to “Monsieur Point’s advice for creative people.”

  1. Casey Says:

    That’s a very liberating idea. I like it, as I tend to overburden myself and then go all hairshirt over projects awaiting completion, which definitely throws a wrench in the creative works.

  2. What I've Learned So Far » Blog Archive » The beauty of mise-en-place. Says:

    […] Anyone who’s been following this blog for a long time may recall my affection for the creative dictum of Chef Fernand Point: […]

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