When I'm writing a story, it's like having a pot of red sauce on the back burner. It's never really out of my head completely. When I sit to write, it's lifting the lid and releasing all these awesome aromas into the air--tomatoes, basil, garlic. Stirring the sauce helps the flavors blend and reminds me of what's missing--meatballs or a dash of pepper. When I set out my pasta ingredients--flour, eggs...maybe spinach, it's another twist in my plot. Another character to enhance my story or reveal another clue. I might spend an hour perfecting the linguine but it's worth it in the end when I have a plate of food that stimulates more than just my mouth. I have a mental feast that inspires my senses and catapults my brain to the next meal I will make.
To those writers worried about where your next story might come from, DON'T! If you're hungry enough, you'll find something to put together.
And that is the perfect example of overusing metaphors... Seriously, what am I talking about anyway? ;-)