Photo: Josh - (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Photo: Josh – (CC BY-NC 2.0)

I love chocolate cake.


In fact, I love chocolate cake so much that I went through the trouble to learn how to make myself a decent one (and how to modify the recipe so my wife can eat it too; she can’t have dairy). And it’s the best in the world.

You can ask my dad.

But why is the quest for a grandmother-worthy chocolate cake so daunting?

Because there’s this delicate (delectable?) dance of ratios that must be balanced. A moist-to-sponginess, sweet-to-bitter, ideal-serving-temperature-envelope sort of thing that if thrown out of whack just reduces the cake to a frosting vehicle (or visa versa).

The point is that the frosting and the cake should work together. If the cake is a made-from-scratch masterpiece, but the frosting is store-bought, then all you’ve done is bake a cake car with a lousy paint job.

Creativity gets buried in the blogosphere in the same way.

This happens because even a blog post meant to glorify an image does a lousy job.

Let me explain.

When someone sits down to read a book, they aren’t surprised by a lack of images. However, when someone sits down to read a blog there’s a completely different expectation. Like medicine, text should be taken in small doses before and after every image.

The picture is there to give the reader a break before the next block of text. It’s primary purpose is for the reader to move on. The images are never the point, and so the art is often lost.

Photo: frankieleon - (CC BY 2.0)

Photo: frankieleon – (CC BY 2.0)

Because straight NyQuil won’t sell.

The reality is that this is okay. No one goes to the store looking for NyQuil without the shot of cherry (although, I’d swear the licorice flavor is pretty close). In fact, if done right, the text and images working together can be far more compelling than either standing alone.

Let me pause here for a second.

And what have we done? Isn’t this just sprinkling the necessary bits with more exciting bits to make the necessary bits less dull? Yes. We do this all over the place (offices, sports, and blog posts). And this is good.

Because a life without beautiful pauses is unlivable.

I think that in this world of continual optimization there’s a danger to eliminate beauty for the sake of efficiency, but people don’t read each others spreadsheets. To omit the beautiful pause is to deprive ourselves of the water stops in the creative marathon.

So here’s the challenge…

How can you can re-inject beautiful pauses into your creative work?

Oh…and that cake recipe can be found here.

As an aside, the original title of this post was
“A Travesty In Chocolate; Or, The Common Mistreatment of Images in Contemporary Blogging”

You’re welcome.