I have decided that there's one VERY IMPORTANT piece of writing advice that often goes unmentioned. It is sort of a secret writer thing, but I am dedicated to bringing such things out in the open, because I'm dedicated to helping you find success as a writer. (You can thank me from your yacht in the Riviera, where you are celebrating your most recent bestseller.) Here goes:
Get a cat.
Why? I shall tell you why.
1. Because a cat anchors a room. There's something so grounding about walking into a room with a cat sleeping in it. Writers need to be grounded. We need to be in our bodies as we work. Otherwise we'll be wafting about the room with no sense of where we are–and so will our characters. If you don't have a cat to help you with this, try some other ways, like meditation, yoga, or Qi Gong, my current favorite. Or take a walk.
2. Because you can talk about plot points with your cat. One of my cats, Captain, is in training to be a human in his next life. As such, he listens carefully to everything humans talk about and pays close attention to what we do. This makes him the perfect writer's companion. He listens to every word I say about my WIP. Writers need to brainstorm. Maybe you don't, but I do. I do a lot of brainstorming, with my clients, other writers, my agent. And I do a ton of it on the page, in my journal. If you're stuck, find a cat (or human, or piece of paper) to brainstorm with.
3. Because cats are cozy, soft and warm to cuddle up next to. And they often purr when they sleep on you. Few things are better in this world than taking a nap on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a cat snoozing away on top of you. But my larger point is: writers need rest. Throw that old image of writers burning the midnight oil, and creating for long stretches of time without food, water or drink out the window. That kind of schedule does not foster creativity. More and more science is coming out to support the idea that we need a consistent amount of sleep–like eight hours a night–to perform our best. This means you, too. And if part of that sleep comes through curling up next to your cat for a nap, so be it.
4. Because they will get hungry and wake you up at the crack of dawn or earlier. Chop chop. Rise and shine. You've got words to get on the page! If your cats are anything like ours, they will meow at their first sign of hunger, which will likely be early. Very early. My two felines have my husband well trained to rise and feed them, but I follow soon thereafter, grab coffee and hit the page. You will make yourself very happy if you get the most important thing in your life–your writing–done first. There's nothing better than the satisfying feeling you'll have all day if you've accomplished your most important goal first.
5. Because a cat will keep you humble. Cats are the original and best arrogant pets. Sometimes the afore-mentioned Captain stares at me while I'm discussing my novel with him, and then shakes his head as if I've said the stupidest thing ever. Other times, he breaks out in a giant yawn. I'm telling you, its humbling. And don't even get me started on the antics of his goofy brother, Lieutenant. (For the record, they were rescues from our local Humane Society and we did not name them.) Writers need a dash of humility. This is a topic not often discussed, but I've seen good writers ruined by their ego. I've seen them get all puffed up and ruin book deals. I've seen them let their ego convince them a manuscript is ready when it isn't, and thus ruin a good potential contact by sending too soon. Enough said. Get a cat.
What's that you say? You don't like cats? Excuse me while I cover the ears of my two tubwads. Such shocking words coming out of your mouth. Heavy sigh. I suppose if you absolutely cannot see your way to get a cat, you could pay attention to the writing tips that are highlighted in bold above.
But I still think there's nothing like a cat to keep you company throughout the day. Unless its a pug. But that's a story for another day.
Which do you prefer–dog or cat?