This post over on Olivia's blog got me thinking (no wonder I've got a headache).
I think that writing is a casserole. You take the basic ingredients and then you add this or that to taste and you let it cook for so long or maybe a bit longer depending on your oven or the way you feel. Writing, like the casserole is an extension of you and the way your feeling on that particular day. The casserole is made up of what you've bought from the grocer or what you've got left over in the fridge. Likewise what you write comes from what's going in in your head and what research you've done or what it is that you want to say.
When the casserole comes out of the oven or the piece of writing is finished, it may be perfect it could be okay or maybe the only place for it is in the bin. Either way you'll have learned something. Perhaps you realise that you have found the secret to perpetual success in which case you carry on doing what you did or you try a new recipe.
Like the casserole writing is not a precise formula. It is not cake.