Friday, July 20, 2018

Five Things Cats Can Teach You About Writing

Five Things Cats Can Teach You About Writing

If you’re a writer, or if you happen to know one, you’re probably aware that writing is a constant work in progress. As writers, we are always learning and evolving. From creative writing courses to inspirational books written by our favorite authors, there are a variety of ways to expand our knowledge about the craft of writing. But, did you know that everything we really need to know about writing can be learned by watching our feline friends? Cats might not be able to teach us about grammar, but the lessons you learn from watching them can definitely be applied to your writing. Here are five things your cat can teach you about writing:

1. Be patient.
It takes time to write a quality book. If you’re a writer of non-fiction, there is research involved. For authors of fiction, there is world-building, keeping all our characters straight, and making sure you haven’t left any loose threads or plot holes. Can your cat teach you how to pen believable characters and realistic dialogue? Maybe not, but your cat can teach you the art of patience. Ever notice how cats are absolutely still as they watch their prey? How they wait for the perfect moment to pounce? Cats are patient. They know that a nice, juicy mouse is worth waiting for and if they rush, they might miss out on something delicious. You can try to rush your creativity, but you run the risk of missing out on an opportunity to create something truly spectacular.

2. Rely on all your senses.
Cats use all their senses to explore and conquer the world around them. They watch. Listen. Smell the air around them. Feel the breeze rustling their whiskers. When writing, if you really want to pull the reader in, engaging all the senses is the best way. What is your character seeing, hearing, and smelling? Smell is one of the most powerful senses, but many writers fail to use this to their advantage. Do you know who doesn’t forget to use their sense of smell? Cats.

3. Trust your instincts.
Cats are very intuitive. When I lived in Missouri where tornados were frequent, I never became truly alarmed when the sirens went off – not unless the cats panicked and tried to hide. Cats always seem to know when something is amiss or when something is coming. If you want to write the best book you possibly can, you would be wise to trust your instincts. Yes, feedback from beta readers and editors is essential, but if you’re receiving conflicting feedback from a variety of readers, who do you trust? Who is the tiebreaker? You are. It’s your book. You wrote it. Trust yourself.

4. Write with reckless abandon.
Anyone who has a cat has, at one time or another, become frustrated when that pushy feline walked across their keyboard, sending a trail of “awsedrftgygyhu” across their document. For the most part, humans are better typists than cats (and better spellers too). Still, there’s a benefit to just letting go and writing without overthinking. Sometimes we are too careful. We are so focused on writing a perfect first draft, we forget there’s no such thing! Rewrites and edits exist for a reason. If you’re struggling with writing your book, let go of the idea of perfection. Just sit back, relax, and write! Once you’ve accomplished the monumental task of completing your first draft, there will be plenty of opportunities to achieve perfection during the editing stage.

5. Take a break.
After a writing spree, cats like to take a break, usually by plopping down in the middle of your keyboard and taking a nap. In fact, cats will nap just about anywhere. You should too. While establishing a good writing routine is important, it’s equally important to take breaks. Some will advise you to write every day, but this isn’t always possible. It’s okay to take a break. Take a break between chapters, between books, or between rounds of editing. You need to recharge your batteries. Pushing yourself will lead to exhaustion and eventually creative burnout.

Hopefully, these five valuable lessons from our frisky feline friends will help you tackle your next writing project. Remember writing is a process and it’s different for everyone. The next time you’re stuck on a project, just ask yourself, “What would Mr. Whiskers do?”

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