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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

10 Reasons Every Writer Should Have a Dog

Sound familiar? Well it is summer and that means re-runs. Here’s why I’m repeating a previously published post: I talked with my editor about revisions on Around the Writer’s Block last week and that’s where my focus is right now. I tried drafting a new post today but realized it’s just not ready for prime-time and I won’t have time to work on it tomorrow, so I’m repeating one of my favs. I hope you enjoy it (again)!

A dog is not something you acquire lightly. I know it’s probably not practical for EVERY writer to have a dog; maybe you could get these benefits from a kitten or a child or a child-like adult. Or you could borrow a friend’s dog every once in awhile. Or foster a dog (a lot of dogs out there need foster homes).

The truth is that my dog Blue not only makes me a better writer, she makes me a better human being. So here are the ten reasons every writer should have a dog:

  1. A dog will remind you to play. Especially as puppies, dogs know that play is the best way to explore the world. If you need a reminder about the value of play, check out the Top 10 Reasons to Play.
  2. A dog will give you a reason to walk everyday. Walking is an outstanding way to move yourself out of writing resistance.
  3. A dog is an excellent audience. Schools use therapy dogs to help kids learn how to read better. A dog of your own is always willing to listen to what you’re working on.
  4. A dog will never criticize your writing!
  5. Training a dog will help you learn how to reward and motivate yourself to keep writing.
  6. A dog requires consistency and a regular schedule of potty breaks, feeding times, exercise, play and rest. As my friend and fellow writer Jean Cook observes, “When I’m really absorbed in what I’m writing or editing and losing track of time, Luci reminds me to take a break to feed her dinner, and to have some myself.” At the same time, dogs are flexible and live in the present moment. This balance of regularity and flexibility is a great antidote to writing resistance, which thrives in the extremes of chaotic, inconsistent environments on the one hand and rigid, overscheduled, overcommitted situations on the other hand.
  7. A dog will remind you when it’s time to stop working. Overwork will only burn you out. If I try to sneak in extra time in my office in the evenings, Blue always shows up, tennis ball in mouth, insisting I play with her instead.
  8. A dog is a great role model for napping. Dogs (and cats) sleep about 16 hours a day, which might be excessive for a writer, but it’s a step in the right direction for a lot of us. Sleep deprivation is a contributing cause of writer’s block. On the other hand, really creative people tend to be great nappers (Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt are prime examples) and napping has been shown to increase creative thinking.
  9. A dog will help you connect with strangers, who can be the source of character studies, man-or-woman-on-the-street opinions and quotes, new perspectives, gossip, all kinds of good stuff for a writer. Studies that people with dogs are much more likely to strike up a conversation with a stranger.
  10. Dogs keep us young. As dogs evolved from wolves, they adapted to live and partner with humans. One of the adaptations was developing “neoteny,” the tendency to retain juvenile characteristics into adulthood. Dogs are wolf pups that never really grow up. As dogs evolved to live with humans, humans evolved to live with dogs, and one of the gifts of our partnership is that humans acquired a bit of neoteny as well. Compared to other primates, humans have a much longer childhood and adolescence. Being with a dog keeps you young in body, mind and spirit.
  11. A dog will never criticize your writing. I know I said that before, but it bears repeating!

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2 Comments on “10 Reasons Every Writer Should Have a Dog”

  1. Rachel V. July 22, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    Thanks, Rosanne; this is a great post to repeat and reread!

    As my household becomes more chaotic as we prepare for an upcoming move, I’ve noticed that Geno, my Newfoundland, still follows his everyday routine. If boxes or clutter are in the way of his favorite mid-day sleeping spot, he’ll just find a new place to curl up or stretch out.

    When it comes to my daily writing routine, that’s a good lesson for me too!


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