Two Quaker Oats boxes sit side by side, both cylindrical, cardboard boxes. One (on the left) is labeled “Quick” Oats and the other “Steel Cut.” One takes one minute to cook, the other 25-30 minutes. Both varieties have similar taste and texture, but they are not exactly alike in nutritional value or price.


Writers, like you and me, like to think outside the BOX.

And, writers, like us, probably find topics everywhere: in the grocery store, on a nature walk, at a party. Ideas may come to us as we drive our cars, in the shower, reading, or in conversation with friends, these days by phone or through Skype or ZOOM.


What the Quaker Oats boxes told me . . .

  • Flash fiction (or a personal essay) usually takes much less time to write than a 350-page novel or memoir. Both, of course, can be satisfying.


  • Don’t be surprised if the “quick oats” project turns into the “steel-cut” version. It all depends: Did you find a diary in the attic since the first draft? Did the “new” thought make more sense than the original? Did the assignment change?


  • The logo on the “box” might ignite your curiosity. Then a side-road leads to something else (maybe something better) to write about.



Your turn:

Add to the tips here, or explore a side-road from your own experience!

How do you serve oatmeal?

What comfort food do you enjoy cooking (or eating) during these days of isolation?

Vintage Quaker Oats memorabilia from reader/blogger Lorrie DeFrank