Eight years ago we brought a chocolate lab into our home who answers to the name of Charlie and I find him to be a most interesting and delightful animal. As I was observing him a few days ago, I realized there were a number of habits which he has that would actually be beneficial to writers.
Have a routine
One of the keys to accomplishing your goals is setting a time on the calendar to write and keeping it like an appointment. Charlie has times like that. Every morning, he expects me to take him out about the same time and feed him about the same time. I don’t know if we have trained him or he has actually conditioned us, but the most important thing is he is committed to the same activities each day at almost the same time without fail. Aspiring authors who try to fit in writing around their other activities almost never get to their goal.
Aspiring authors who try to fit in writing around their other activities almost never get to their goal.
Be naturally curious
We can walk the same path. We can sit in the same room. We can follow the same schedule, but Charlie will always take time to take in a new smell or find a new toy or pause to watch the actions of a child he does not recognize. Writers should do the same. Pause to take in new information and sense experiences because you never know how it might help your writing have greater depth and interest.
Be observant of the things around you
This is similar to being naturally curious, but one thing I have seen is Charlie always notices a sound or smell or animal or person that is different from what he normally sees. Writers would benefit from the same attention to observation. From those new sensations and inputs, you may find inspiration for a more robust description of a scene or an approach to dialogue or something else to improve your story or writing.
Find a favorite spot
I have written about this quite often. My personal experience and conversations with other writers have confirmed that where you write can impact what you write. Some people need complete quiet. Others need the stimulus of a public space. It really doesn’t matter where you write, as long as you know the place where you write best. As for Charlie, he has certain places, often where the sun is coming through the window, where he likes to hang out. Not sure how productive he is in those spots, because he tends to nap there, but the principle is the important thing to remember in this case.
It really doesn’t matter where you write, as long as you know the place where you write best.
Celebrate the accomplishment of the day
Writing and rewriting is a long journey with stops of self-doubt along the way so it is easy to give up, but don’t. Learn to celebrate the accomplishments of the day. Even if you just write a couple of pages or change the dialogue in a scene, focus on that. Charlie is happy if all he gets to do in a day is run and chase sticks. He gets excited by what he got done that day. Writers can learn from that.
So if you have been stuck or laid aside your manuscript, hopefully Charlie’s routine will inspire you to get back at it and accomplish your goal.