What a jar of macaroni can teach you about good writing

by Joanne Wallace

Dry macaroni has a distinctive smell, familiar to all who've raised toddlers

Back to school. Hallelujah. But.

The day I finally got both kids out of my hair, I had one of those crazy mom moments.

After a morning spent working in blissful solitude, I wandered downstairs for lunch. Some leftover minestrone in the fridge looked promising, but it needed extra pasta.

I pulled a mason jar of macaroni from my pantry cupboard and unscrewed the lid. From it rose the starchy smell of dry pasta - familiar to all who've ever raised toddlers, taught Sunday School or volunteered in Kindergarten classrooms. I could almost feel the sticky white glue on my fingertips.


Smiling boy with macaroni necklaceIn that instant I suddenly understood my kids (now 11 and 14) are never going to make me another macaroni necklace.

I probably won't get to glue macaroni to sheets of construction paper until my kids have kids (or I end up in one of those loony bins for emotionally overwrought menopausal women).

But what does this have to do with you?

One thing. Make your reader smell the macaroni.

Whatever you're writing - sales copy, a fundraising appeal, or even a letter to your mom - engage the reader's senses with the kind of detail that cuts through the clutter and makes them feel something. That's how you move people to action.

As for me? I think I'll spend a little more time with my kids today. I wonder if I've still got that play-dough recipe ...




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