Five writing secrets I learned from my cat

ImageIf my cats, Jack and Suzy, wrote a book, it would be a bestseller. They have an intuitive understanding of plot (cat wants food and will do anything to get it) a therapist’s grasp of character (how to wake sleeping humans at 5 am) and a willingness to explore any setting (how did they get in there?)

Here are five writing lessons I learned from my felines:

  1. Never underestimate the power of a nap. What do my cats and Paul McCartney have in common? They both know that sleep fuels creativity. You may not dream a bestselling song but you can increase your creativity by keeping a notebook beside your bed. Write in it as soon as you awake. Scraps of dreams, snippets of dialogue, plot twists. Lyrics even. You never know.
  2. Be persistent. Whether it’s searching for treats, getting my attention or catching anything that moves, my cats never give up. They focus on that buzzing fly until their mission is complete. Writing a novel requires a similar level of persistence. Keep at it, even if it is only a paragraph a day. Ignore social media and that messy kitchen. Write.
  3. Train your Family. Let’s face it: our pets have us trained. We know when they expect to eat, go outside, or have their ears rubbed. Train your housemates to respect your writing time. Make it clear that you can only be disturbed in emergencies—bleeding, broken bones and serious nervous breakdowns.
  4. Explore.  Develop the curiosity of a cat. Poke your nose in other people’s business. Ask your elderly Aunt Matilda about dating in the 1930s. Ask your work colleague about her pet pig. Ask a librarian anything. (Librarians have Wikipedia beat.)
  5. Develop a sense of play. When your writing is in a rut, shake up your routine. Get up and stretch—cats do it all the time. Take a different route to work or explore a new neighbourhood. Stare at a tree–they provide both oxygen and inspiration. Stroll to your favourite coffee shop and free write about the people around you. If you usually write novels, try writing a poem, a short story or a love letter. Do something unpredictable. Write like a cat.