Indulging in Guilty Pleasures

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group is talking about guilty pleasures, both in our regular lives and in our writing.

Guilty pleasures shouldn’t be ignored. Indulge in them, because there’s a good reason that you like them. It doesn’t matter that no one else gets why you like it. They don’t have to. What matters is that this activity feeds your soul, your muse or your happiness. Ignoring them means cutting off a part of what makes you, well, you.

Guilty Pleasures: Photo of several different dark chocolate bars. Notably from Chuao and Ghirardelli.

It may be cliché, but chocolate is ALWAYS a winner! The Maya bar has been there a while. Obviously not a favorite compared to the others, but it’s almost time to restock!

Everyday Life: Good Quality Dark Chocolate

I’ve always liked dark chocolate. But since my DH and I started following the Paleo Diet and gave up grains, potatoes, legumes and most sugar, we needed to find a treat that was indulgent, yet also had some benefits associated with it. One of the suggestions made was an ounce or so of dark chocolate for dessert. Preferably above 70% cacao to get the antioxidant benefits.

Most times we stretch this a bit and will go as low as 60% cacao for our favorite chocolate bars from Chuao (pronouced Chew-wow!). It’s a fairly local chocolatier with several shops in the local malls, but they are also stocked in our local grocery stores for slightly less. The first time we went in one of the stores they were trying out new flavors. One of those was a chocolate bar with potato chips in it. Oh, did I forget to mention that they’re a very artisan type chocolatier? They’ve got some really cool flavors: Honeycomb, Caracas (a pistachio/almond/hazelnut mix), and Firecracker (one with cinnamon and cayenne in it). Our favorite is the Caracas even though it’s Guilty because it has closer to 60% cacao, but Pleasure because it’s the flavor we like best and it’s not the worst thing we could be eating.

Our other standbys are Ghirardelli bars. They have an Intense Dark chocolate line that’s wonderful. This line ranges from Midnight (86% which is a tad TOO intense for us. It’s more of a gritty than a smooth feeling.), Twilight (72% – not too gritty and above 70%!), Evening (60% – below the threshhold for us except for special treats and we prefer the Caracas from Chuao if we’re going to go below 70%. However, our favorite Ghirardelli bar from the Intense Dark line has to be the Sea Salt Soiree. It has sea salt and almond bits in it, but I had to check the label a couple of times because it tastes just like pretzel bits. Perfect blend of sweet & savory.

There are a few other brands we like… one of them has a wolf on the wrapper and is very environmentally conscious that has cranberries and almonds—Yep, I’m being too lazy to go look it up, sorry!—but the Chuao and the Ghirardelli are our favorites. Our kids can’t stand dark chocolate, but that’s ok… just means we don’t have to share!

Writing Life: Dialogue, Introspection and Character Vignettes

If I can just get my characters talking to each other, I’m usually in good shape. I can always go back around and fill in what things look like, what they’re doing or what’s going on around them later. But once I get them talking, everything else drops to the background and I’m lucky if I get to put in minimal stage directions and blocking as I go. It’s similar to people watching, but more like taking transcription as you eavesdrop on the characters. Guilty because I tend to ignore everything else to run with this, but Pleasure because it’s fun, allows my sense of humor to play, and it feels like the word count racks up quickly.

The flip side of this is when the characters start thinking and want to hash everything out in their heads with long, rambling bouts of internal monologues. Any action stops dead in its tracks and all forward momentum comes to a screeching halt. However, this is where I learn the most about my characters and it seems to be a process I have to go through in order to work things out in my own head. The problem is when I can’t jolt them out of their heads and into their world and into conversations with the other characters. Guilty because it helps me in the long run, but Pleasure because once I get going, it’s hard to stop and redirect, especially if I don’t know where the story should be going next.

I love little set pieces. I’m currently doing a 100 words/day challenge to just get back into the joy of writing for writing’s sake. Of course, what did I naturally slip into? Yup, little character vignettes that may or may not see the light of day. I like playing with character and seeing what I can draw out in that limited space to give you a sense of the person from so little. Guilty because I should be focusing on my WIPs (works in progress) and the characters in them, Pleasure because it’s been fun! It’s different and there are no restrictions other than getting at least 100 words down on a page.

Guilty Pleasures: Black and White photo of a dandelion gone to seed.

Yes, this was taken blind. The exposure was way off and the original image is mostly black. It’s amazing the hidden gems you can find. Did I mention I LOVE digital photography?

Photography: Flowers & Intuitive Shots

With the 2012 365 Photo Challenge, I figured this would be a good section to include since I’ve definitely been indulging in a couple of guilty pleasures. I have such a wide variety of flowers in my yard here that it’s very easy to get good looking pictures without much planning or effort. One of the things I love to do is to shoot blind. By this I mean, I don’t always look through the view finder or at the screen when I set up a shot. The Guilty part here is that I know I should be stretching my eye and sense of composition beyond the easy stuff and the Pleasure comes in finding hidden little gems like a stray insect or bird I hadn’t noticed in the shot when I clicked the shutter and being surprised by what appears and works.


YOUR TURN: What are your guilty pleasures? In general or in your creative endeavors. What do you do just for the joy of it?

And if you’d like to read what the rest of my accountability group considers their guilty pleasures, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

6 responses to “Indulging in Guilty Pleasures

  1. You got me with the chocolate. I like Ritter Sport dark chocolate with hazelnuts. The European chocolate has less sugar than American chocolate. Of course there is always Lindt Extra Dark Truffles–truly decadent.

  2. Ding Dongs….the chocolate kind. *wink*

  3. The eating of dark chocolate has risen to all-time heights since we started going paleo and sea salt or almond chocolate are number one.
    Lately I’ve been guilty by not even looking at my WIP my head hurts just thinking about it. But for pleasure I started a plot bunny for sleeping beauty and having fun with it!

    Now I wish I had some chocolate with me!

    • DH is always complaining we’re eating too big a serving of dark chocolate, “It’s supposed to be 1 ounce!” What can I say, he’s a man. I don’t think there’s ever such a thing as too much chocolate.

      Ooh! Plot bunnies can be awesome guilty pleasures. They can eventually be useful too! Sounds like you needed a bit of a break from the other one. I never work well when I’m in that mode either. Writing is hard work, but it should be fun and something you want to do, not avoid like the plague.

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