Be the Chicken Nugget in a Bag of Vegetables


My boyfriend found a chicken nugget in his bag of frozen vegetables the other day.

And just to make sure it was a chicken nugget, he popped the frozen mound into the microwave. Sure enough, it emerged crispy and delicious. Like McDonald’s.

Concerned that perhaps the workers at the packaging house were rebelling, and some poor vegetarian would end up with the same fate from another bag, my boyfriend called the company.

“Are you sure it wasn’t a carrot?” the manager asked him, after he explained his immaculate discovery.

“Of course I’m sure,” my boyfriend replied. “I think I’d know the difference between a chicken nugget and a carrot.”

Though laughing hysterically, this got me thinking. The odyssey of his chicken nugget was so outrageous, that it became contagious.

So here’s my question to you: When you write, are you being the chicken nugget in a bag of frozen vegetables?

Make Your Writing Stand Out

I struggle with breaking free of clichés, as does every writer. But whether you’re a journalist trying to engage the public, a creative writer encouraging people to buy your book, or a corporate writer building your company’s brand, you won’t get anywhere if you don’t stand out.

Besides writing about the unexpected, consider these tips to transform yourself from a frozen carrot into that chicken nugget:

  • The Curse of Knowledge: A communications coach from my work once fed me this term. Are you so embroiled in your area of expertise, that you forgot what it’s like to be an outsider? Think: what would excite an 8-year-old to read your story?
  • Humor: Of course, this depends on what you’re writing, and for whom. But while making people cry takes talent, making people laugh takes true genius. Ask yourself: am I laughing as I’m writing this?
  • Your Personal Voice: Don’t you want to slap those teenagers who try on new identities as easily as they change outfits? With writing, you need to let your unique voice shine through. Don’t try to be anyone else, except you, even if you’re writing for a company (yes, I said it!).
  • OBSERVE: Admittedly, I’d forgotten this tip lately. My boyfriend had to remind me that the best writers observe the world around them. Are you stepping back and just looking? Seinfeld was insanely successful for a reason.
  • Realism: I don’t care whether you’re writing about a real person, or a character you developed. That person, and his or her story, better be realistic and believable. If people can’t relate, they won’t care. Which leads me to my next point . . .
  • Conflict: We’re all drama kings and queens at heart. Without conflict in a story, we’re bored! Build the tension of conflict, whether for a novel, article, or short story. In the corporate world, you can do this too. Established a new process? Interview an employee and learn how hard their job was before the new process kicked in.

Considering this is probably the longest blog I’ve ever written, I’ll stop here. But make yourself that chicken nugget in the bag of frozen vegetables—and surprise the world!

Like the advice I offer? Subscribe to my free blog (upper righthand corner) for email notifications on new writing tips, short stories, and media lessons. As a professional writer/editor, journalist, media strategist and communications consultant, I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others grow.

136 thoughts on “Be the Chicken Nugget in a Bag of Vegetables

  1. Excellent post! I just created a blog and the usual thoughts I have running around my head don’t seem good enought to be posted on the World Wide Web – I love the advice you gave! I’ll be keeping it in mind:)

  2. LOVE this post. Thanks for sharing. Your cute photo made me click on your post in addition to the unique title of the post. I am not a good writer, but would like to improve my writing skills. Where do I start? Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks! =D

  3. Thanks for the tips. The title jumped up out at me like a dancer would jump out of a sea of unmoving faces. It was drawing me in and I couldn’t resist, I had to read. Very wonderfully written and I will be sure to apply those techniques in my writing. Thanks again.

  4. Thanks for the good writing tips! Haha–that’s so funny that he found a chicken nugget in the frozen veggies!! That must have been really funny! Congrats on the Freshly Pressed!

  5. Somewhere out there, a kid was dreading the plate of vegetables he was going to have to eat before leaving the table and just when he thought that he couldn’t go on… there it was, a delicious ray of hope waiting for him amongst the vegetables. Thank you frozen vegetable chicken nugget.

  6. Interesting reminder about keeping to your own style! I’ve just started another blog. My others have been topic and time limited but I realised that I have to keep going because my day job in local authority requires me to adapt my style … corporate doesn’t do funny and I need somewhere else to actually write! I keep thinking I’ll run out of material but so far training for the London marathon (that never happened because I needed a new hip), taking my family by train to Crete and a hip replacement have kept me going. And 2011 looks no less boring! Thanks for more inspiration!

  7. I like the cheeky biscuit picture to go with your story. My blog definitely needs more pictures (or more biscuits, maybe) but I’m not sure my tech is up to it. I’m only just getting going with writing, never mind adding images/photographs! Can I stand out? I’m not sure I’m going to be a chicken nugget – more of a comedy vegetable shape… It’s a start.:-)

  8. i love how you can relate chicken nuggets to something completely random
    the clashing of two random topics is beautiful😀

  9. I enjoyed this so much. When I first saw the title and picture, it explained how I was feeling. I just experienced the most miserable reunion where everyone was married with kids and I was the only unmarried unemployed person there. I truly felt like a chicken nugget in a bag of vegetables!

    I love your views about writing and I found your post totally engaging. Just wanted to tell you I love the way you write. It feels like you’re speaking to me:)

  10. I love your post! I, too, am a chicken nugget struggling among the veggies. Thanks for your helpful writing tips. =)

  11. Great reminders. Thanks and congrats on FP!
    Now…I’m craving McD’s chicken nuggets (which should be spelled “chiken,” because, let’s be serious…).

  12. First off, congratulations on getting freshly pressed! Secondly, I love this post. Love how you came up with some great writing tips and lessons from finding a chicken nugget in the bag of veggies. Awesome analogy!

  13. Wonderful blog post! I had no idea your post would be what it was when I first read the title, but the moment I started reading your first paragraph I laughed out loud. Strange how some naturally occurring events lead to even deeper thought.😉 Great job on your post!

  14. As a new “blogger” I’m trying so hard to learn all that I can about being good at this new venture. I enjoy entertaining my friends through funny stories and sarcasm in person, but conveying that same sense of dry humor is challening in text. It sometimes comes of as me having a bad case of PMS. Thanks for some tips!

  15. Great tips, thanks for posting! Observing the world around me in new ways is probably the thing I like most about being writer. It also makes me feel a little less creepy when I’m “people watching.” lol

    We all write about common everday things, whether it is a technical piece about solid state hard drives or a romance novel or a sci-fi adventure. Even when the conflict is extraordinary or “out there,” our characters have the same human emotions as all of us (or they should, so they are relatable!😉 But I think, as writers, it’s HOW we see the world that makes all the difference. Thanks for the Seinfeld reference, that’s a good tip and helps to illustrate what we need to do as writers. And you have inspired me to write tonight when I was just planning on going to bed early, so THANK YOU for that as well!!!

  16. Wow Shari…

    This was great!!! What an inspiring analogy. I am so proud I raised a “chicken nugget” and not a “frozen carrot”.

      1. Ahhh, how sweet! Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, my mom’s comment (:-)) and everything else. I do hope you keep coming back to visit, for more fun stuff!

        Shari

  17. I recently wrote a post about twice as long as I normally write, because I wanted to meet the requirements for submission to another site. It was a real challenge for me to be so wordy and I found that i couldn’t say the kinds of things I was thinking about saying originally. It was a great exercise for me, but I’m glad I don’t always need to write so much. It went against my nature!

  18. Proud to be a VEGETABLE !
    just kidding :p
    your post should also be applied to ones character and way of living.
    for me your words are inspiring and i thank you for this post.

  19. I was just on wordpress and I saw this post and said, hmm maybe this could be good. I read this and other posts and LOVED them your style is so amazing. Good Job.

    ~Blake Dean~

  20. I’d like to see you break down what the difference would be between writing as a McDonalds Chicken Nugget and writing as an organic, free roaming, no antibiotics chicken nugget.

    Excellent thoughts,

    D

  21. “But make yourself that chicken nugget in the bag of frozen vegetables—and surprise the world!”

    Thank you for this single line. Although I don’t like chicken nuggets it really makes me smile. And a few minutes before I felt quite empty, exhausted but now I’m kinda motivated to write. I think I’m not able to explain how much I like this post. I just want you to know that I’ll keep it in mind everytime I don’t believe in myself anymore.

    1. Oh wow, that really means a lot and your comment touched me very deeply. I would have never thought my words would help inspire another so much. I’m glad you feel inspired! Keep writing!:-)

      Shari

  22. The Gingerbread Man……. one of my favorite stories as a child…a true STANDOUT among all the Snow Whites, Jack and the Beanstalks, Rapunzels and Cinderellas. Wonderful post!

  23. Great post. You could have done the entire thing about the nugget, but you transitioned so beautifully to talk about writing. And, of course, the greater message is that we all could benefit from being the nuggets in life. Unless we are in a crowd of nuggets. Then we want to be the vegetable. Or something like that.

  24. great title! I thought this was going to be a blog post about going against the grain of the uber healthy that are trying to wring every bit of fun out of what we eat. You had me pleasantly fooled and inspired all at once.

  25. very funny! I admire how writers (myself when i’m feeling inspired) can take a small incident and use it as a jumping off point… although i recently had an essay rejected(it was about an angry shopper during teh Xmas rush) and the editor said “Too small an incident to merit an essay” Obviously, you and I would disagree,
    PS
    your boyfriend was BRAVE to eat the nugget

  26. I’m still not convinced that is chicken in those McNuggets, but otherwise great tips and solid reminders to BE YOURSELF.
    Another tip could be stop procrastinating and write.
    Back to my post I go…

  27. Really love this post, but can’t stop thinking that a factory worker may have been eating and lost one of his nuggets (that sounds wrong), but then again I’m kind of germaphobic so I probably would have writen off the whole bag.

  28. Congrats on being fresh pressed (more fresh I would say:) ) while we are in the midst of raging questions of – How did the chicken nugget end up in the bag? , Was there a nugget or you made up the story and so and so forth , I’d have of mine all of us here who like your blog are on our way to be chicken nuggets , and thanks for reminding what it means to stand out really … and why the heck, in the first place …:) keep up the nice work

    1. em .. sorry bout the spelling mistakes and apparent lack of connectivity at places.. typing out rather hastily in excitement of getting a smart, quote worthy thought inside your head at about 3 am doesn’t help at all!!!!:)

    2. Thank you! I’m very glad you found the analogy helpful. Amazingly enough, the story is NOT made up. This really happened. To this day, my boyfriend and I have NO CLUE how that frozen chicken nugget wound up in his bag of veggies. It plopped out when he was pouring the vegetables into a bowl. While laughing hysterically over the situation, I suddenly realized how much this chicken nugget stood out–thus, the post today!:-)

      1. hey I wasn’t implying that the story was made up:) but glad that u noticed how it stood out… teaches us about a very basic thing that a writer has to do, in order to be really understood and to be able to reach out:) kudos lady…you rock

  29. Your picture grabbed me on the Freshly Pressed page (congrats, by the way!) and I’m glad it did. As a novice writer, I love your tips! Not sure if I’m ready to adopt “be the nugget” as my new mantra but it’s kind of catchy! I’m also your newest subscriber.

    Thanks for the tips. I hope to put them to good use on my blog,
    Amy

    1. Hi Amy, so glad you found me too! Thank you kindly for your subscription.😉 I will make sure to run by your hub in one of the coming evenings and check out your blog as well!

      1. I’d love for you to stop by when you have a moment! I was Freshly Pressed in October and spent all my blog-world time responding to comments. It was a great ride! I need to explore your posts more as well. I’m not a professional writer but serious about working to become a better one … enjoy!

        Amy

  30. Have you ever noticed that McDonalds chicken nuggets are … grey? So, I think I’d rather be a double-chocolate chip cookie in a bag of lightly salted chips. Either way, great tips!

  31. Thanks for the laugh. I’m not a writer, but I can certainly apply the “chicken nugget in a bag o’ veggies” to my daily life. Great tips, passing them on to my writer friends!

  32. Shari, I don’t know how you come up with such fascinating twists and concepts, but I have to hand it to you, that is great writing and an ingenious way of dispensing some invaluable tips. GREAT JOB!!!!

  33. Cracking post.. Good tips aswell.

    Im curious to know how the phone call ended tho?.. Living in the current state we do in this world, im assuming you won £/$ 200,000 Compensation?. =)

  34. I really enjoyed this article. I’m not a writer but I find that that way of looking at everything is pretty essential to the rest of everyday life too. It’s not necessarily about standing out but about turning a surprise (or shock – if you were that vegetarian) into something that carries forward… like the post… or even just looking at the manufacturing industry differently. Many people get mad when the unusual happens or something falls out of their routine. Good post.

    _____________________________________
    weight loss hypnosis

  35. The title of your post grabbed but so did the picture. I loved them both! I thought you had some great points that centered around several things that I have been trying to figure out as I make my way through the world as a new blogger.

    I started a blog about seven months ago. I did it mostly because I had fun writing and because I was lost in my life. As I continued with each post, I really struggled with my voice. What should I say? What do people want to read? How should this be geared? The thing is that the more I pushed those kinds of thoughts, the less authentic I felt.

    Now, I go with my gut and if my gut says nothing, I say nothing. Another thing that has been helpful is that I imagine that nobody will read what I have to say (I know, I should be a salesman) but it keeps me honest and reminds me that I do this for me. I have to like it. I have enjoy it. Otherwise, why do it?

    Don’t get me wrong, I still want to conquer the world and have my own bobble head but, for right now, I’m happy to just take the time and express who I am. Cheesy, yes? A carrot, definitely not. Great post!

  36. I think the analogy to the chicken in a bag of vegetables can backfire though… When you’re steaming veggies, you don’t want that glorious processed chicken hunk.

    How do you avoid alienating your core audience (to take the metaphor too far, vegetarians) while still being an expected gem for new readers (people who hate veggies)?

    I run into this problem a lot with my music, instead of my literature, writing. It’s great to talk about p- and r-series and the specific sound manipulations, but how do you successfully achieve these aphorisms, especially in more niche fields?

  37. Love your post- even if it did take an angry rebellious packaged food worker to make it happen. Perhaps that will be my new years resolution. I was going to forgo them this year, but how can you say no to being a chicken nugget in a bag of vegetables?

  38. That is so absolutely disgusting….. haha. Great post though. I feel as if most bloggers/writers these days write what they think will bring them the most traffic and not what they really truly think or feel. Truth is always a great read.

    ~heather

  39. first time i read your blog and probably the first of your blogs.i just started blogging a few days back so i need your comments on it just so that i’d get the idea of my writing skills(just inform me if i should continue blogging or am i too miserable for it). and yeah i am definitely being the chicken nugget almost every-time i am doing something

    1. Hi Night Crawler! I will be more than happy to visit your blog and check it out.😉 It might take another day or two, as I’m busy at work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but in the evenings, I manage this blog and will swing by your hub. Thank you for taking the time to stop by mine!

  40. I’m still wondering about getting the chicken nugget in the frozen veggies, what?? Do you think it was a rebel worker or a horrible accident, what else is in those veggies we don’t know about??

    I hope I AM a chicken nugget when I write!! I try to be ME, which is a horse of a different color!

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Good concept!

    evelyngarone.com

  41. Might I add that using profanity wisely can really pay off. Especially if you write a blog or are trying to be humorous in your writing. I’ve noticed a well placed curse word can be the difference between a giggle and an all out laugh riot.

    Great Post! I hope you enjoyed your miraculous chicken nugget!

  42. I don’t really like the way “professional” sounds, but I still liked your words.

    I’ll keep myself subscribed, trying to bem the nugget.:)

    Nice Post!

  43. Cool. I like the concept of being a chicken nugget. And you are so right–if we want to promote ourselves, we can’t be carbon copies.

    But my crazy investigative mind, cannot let this story go. How did the chicken nugget get in the bag of veggies. Were there no reasonable explanations?

    Then the question becomes even more esoterical. How do any of us get to where we are. And if we are the chicken nugget, what are these people around us?

    As you can tell, I am suffering the effects of lack of sleep–too many late nights staying up writing and reading blogs.

    But I really liked yours. Fun! Thinks for giving us something “meaty” to think about.
    :-)

    1. And too bad I cannot edit after hitting send–thinks? Really? And the lack of question marks. If anyone in my English classes reads this, I am being held hostage by a bag of frozen peas and being forced to use improper grammar and poor proofreading skills.

      Oops.:-)

  44. Love your post. I have had this discussion many times with a couple friends. Does one write for themselves or do we write for others? Is one better or does it matter? Congrats on being fresh pressed!

  45. Great advice! I can’t say I would have ever thought of using the analogy of a chicken nugget in a bag of veggies. I guess inspiration can come to you in the weirdest ways.

    The most important question here is this: did you end up eating the chicken nugget? If you did, how does that tie in to your analogy? Does eating the chicken nugget represent reading a great piece of writing?
    ❤ Milieu

  46. Conflict is the hard part for me. I avoid it in my real life so inserting it into my writing just for the sake of extra conflict is a hard thing to remember. But I remind myself that each conflict is a chance for a resolution. That seems to help. But it’s still a hard choice every time. Thanks for the reminders — and good luck observing.

    Crystal
    http://www.crystalspins.com

  47. Wow! Intelligent. I like they way you describe the chicken nugget as a metaphor as a niche for your success in writing/blogging. The steps you’ve listed is a great motivator for me. I’ve just started blogging a couple of months ago, and I think this blog will help me in the future. Great words of thoughts!

  48. Ah, yes, the Curse of Knowledge.

    I range in writing from humorous to spiritual to intellectual. I’m not even sure where I want to end up, but I try to aim for the middle ground…tackling some intellectually dense topics with a touch of humor (or at least attempting to do so). It makes it very difficult to find an audience. I definitely stand out…too far out. I write blog posts on my favorite philosophers (like Nietzsche) and unusual writers (like Anais Nin, Mark Twain and Jack Kerouac) that few people would take an interest in, though I’d like to get back to more fiction efforts. I’m trying to find my voice, my values/philosophies and my intentions that will eventually end up in my fiction writing.

    I’m not even sure where I’ll end up…but I’d prefer to lean towards the humorous, but I struggle with that because I had worked in the biotech field for 12 years before I became a stay at home mother for my daughters. Talk about being embroiled in an area of expertise. It’s difficult to let the artist out when the scientist/intellectual is an attention hog.

    Sometimes it’s difficult to stop thinking/analyzing and just write.

    1. Humor is my biggest pitfall as well. I was a journalist (including an investigative journalist) for some years, and I actually began this blog to reconnect with my creative roots as a writer.

      Only recently can I say I’ve truly begun writing with more humor. And the key is simply this: What makes you laugh? Every day, when you laugh with your husband, your kids, your friends, what is it you laugh at? THAT is what you should write. By boyfriend and I were laughing hysterically about the chicken nugget he found in the frozen veggies. Laughing frees your mind from the “type A” rational thinking, and allows your creativity to flow. It was only after laughing with him about his chicken nugget that I thought of how this applies to writing.

      I empathize with your plight! But I truly believe you can do it! Subscribe to my blog (it’s free, and you’ll get email notifications when I post something new). I think many of the entries might help you find that humorous, unique voice you seek. You have it in you, it just needs to find the key to emerge.

      Shari

      1. Shari, Hi!

        You can count one more pitfalling for humor and fished by the Freshly Released pic, and fished from far down the South America – from the [not so] sunny [nowadays] Brazil.

        I hope I managet o follow you up by reading and replying, as much as my transtion life of wanna-be writer permits. And I hope that happens, at least, every now and then.

        This way I think being the chicken heading out of the vegs bag will become a piece of cake, an even sweeter one!

  49. I wrote a post last year about being nicheless in a world full of people telling you you need a niche in order to be a “successful” blogger. I pride myself on being a chicken nugget for lots of reasons:)

  50. I strive everyday to be the chicken nugget. I wonder, though, is the fact that my writing makes me laugh a sign of my scintillating sense of humor or do I just need to be medicated? Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  51. Being the chicken nugget in the bag of veggies is the new black. Haven’t you heard?

    I love to use humor (my most recent post features me wearing a tiara of tiny penises) and a very strong voice in my blog (in fact, it may even be TOO strong for some, I’m guessing).

    These are great tips. Thanks for sharing, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!:)

      1. Is she not the most beautiful gal you have ever seen! I found a link on her with more images, I hope to expand on her someday soon!

        Holy… how and the world do you keep up to a freshly pressed post! My inbox is jammed!

        LOL!

        Good job and good luck!

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