Dogs Make Excellent Writing Partners
Writing can be lonely, but friends are distracting. Dogs are companionable, without being conversational. You can type quietly, suddenly talk, then stop mid-sentence without repercussion. You can test a phrase nineteen different ways. Twenty. Hit delete. Start over; your dog’s happy.
Skip the Purina
Garvey will eat anything but commercial dog food. In a world of unexplored flavor, he’s had enough kibble. Readers feel the same way about exposition. Get to the good stuff.
Don’t Be Too Careful in Your First Draft
Write with enthusiasm; the worst that can happen is you hit delete. Garvey deletes an entire lasagna and looks for more. Write like that; you won’t run out of words.
Head spinning at your computer? Whenever I get lost in a celebrity slideshow, Garvey demands a walk. I don’t know how he can tell I’m wasting time, but dogs are traditionally associated with magic. So are walks. Think about how many great stories—Red Riding Hood, Exodus, The Odyssey—are about taking a walk (or a really long boat ride). Walks are even better with a dog. Hounds remind you to dig around and incorporate your senses, especially smell, into everything you write.
When There’s No Time for a Walk, Running Around in Circles Will Do
Garvey uses the front lawn. I don’t want to embarrass my kids, so I dance in the kitchen. You know the song. Dance hard. Repeat. Get back to work.
People Will Read Anything About Dogs
In fact, this post began as a feast of clickbaity sarcasm. My dog is illiterate, you fool! But—
Sarcasm is a Sign That You Should Dig Deeper
As a kid, I didn’t understand why I got grounded for sarcasm; now I get it. Although I make fun of dog lovers (I identify as a cat person), I’d never direct sarcasm at my dog. I love my dog. Sarcasm is cruelty disguised as humor. Sarcasm is the lazy imposter of wit. Sarcasm is a defense mechanism. What are you defensive about? Readers want your secrets. Here’s one of mine…
I learn from my dog all the time. Unconditional canine love is both comforting and encouraging. No matter how awful something I may write is, my dog just wants me to be real. Plus, he lets me pull his ears.
So, here’s maybe the most important thing I’ve learned…
Moods Don’t Matter
I don’t always feel like writing, but Garvey is a creature of routine. He whimpers for me to hit the keyboard. Although it’s fun to be in the mood, the quality of my work has little (if anything) to do with how inspired I feel at the time. If that seems unmagical and blasphemous, it’s OK.
My dog still loves me.