Building Creative Stromboli

Monday, March 7, 2022

“…a calzone is like a taco and a stromboli is like a burrito. Tacos and calzones are always folded. Burritos and calzones are always rolled.”

from bon appètit, “What’s the Difference Between a Calzone and a Stromboli?” by Alex Delaney

I scroll through my Notes app and find this gem. Building Creative Stromboli. I open the note and find that I had made a note to self: It really was “Building creative stamina” 🤣. But what was it that made me write such words? Was I listening to a podcast while on my afternoon walk or in the middle of cooking dinner, but most likely not stromboli? Brenè Brown? Did it come from her? Did she say this or did she make a reference to something? Is it a book title? Is it something I want to do or am curious about doing?

Note to self: Take better notes. My phone autocorrected the original snippet of whatever my brain needed, but this time, I like the correction. Makes me think. Either way, what am I doing to build creative stamina? What is it? This SOLSC where I write for 31 days? To top it off, I’m a late night slicer (shout out to all you night owls!) so getting to my computer at the end of the day, every day for a month certainly builds those writing muscles. But I tend to get cramps. Aha! I should order a calzone or stromboli or both to get me through it.

If I’m to build creative stamina, could it mean that I need to do something besides writing? Should I make my own pizza dough (I found a great recipe I frequently use) divide it half and make a calzone for dinner one night and save the other for stromboli? Kneading dough by hand is cathartic, unleashing new ideas through the push, fold, turn, push, fold, turn motion for a good ten minutes the recipe suggests. I have about an hour to myself while the dough rises, but that usually isn’t enough for me to switch over to writing which will soon be interrupted with pizza making.

That’s as far as I’ve taken it. That dough can become any kind of pizza, but I have yet to lead it to become a calzone or stromboli. I don’t know why. I’m stuck with my favored Neapolitan style pizza because I’m a creature of habit and when I get comfortable, I don’t like to explore much.

I’ve been reading about creativity for a few years. My favorites: The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron; Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon; Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. One of the ideas that keeps getting repeated is to do something else besides [insert your creative endeavor here.] To get better at writing, I need to do something other than writing. Not all of the time, of course, but when feeling stuck-making pizza dough and only making pizza-do something else. Make a calzone. Make stromboli. Or tacos. Or burritos. Play with clay and then watch it break, like I wrote about here a few weeks ago for a Tuesday Slice.

A Google search for “building creative stamina” will tell you a lot of the same things in a lot of different ways. One thing I’ve learned is to let that creativity out, even if it isn’t great. It’s better for those ideas to come out to play. Ever watch a kindergartener draw or paint a picture? They don’t care how it looks, they care about the process. They get into the zone. Like kneading pizza dough. The end result may be good, but releasing those creative bubbles is the point.

Calzones and stromboli are the culinary bonuses for late night writing sessions. Roll with it.