Writers Need Cats: By Beth Camp

by Penyulap at Wikimedia Commons

You may think that writers work in isolation, hunched over the keyboard, and requiring absolute quiet. But I recommend for the most consistent kick-in-the-pants, inspirational writing companion, you should adopt a cat.

Before Tiger went to kitty heaven, I had the means to closely observe the links between cats and writerly creativity.

  1. Cats know when we should stop working at the computer. Not only will they tread lightly over the keyboard and drape themselves gingerly upon it, but should that not be sufficient, they will leap upon your amassed rough draft and mark selected pages with muddy prints, ensuring you take appropriate breaks from intense writing sessions.
  2. Cats inspire thoughtful analysis. Who has observed a cat gazing into what we cannot see and not realized their attachment to issues far grander than a plot hole – and our own need to think of unique alternatives beyond the outline? Our creativity is enhanced when we explore different perspectives. Cats ensure our connection to the infinite.
  3. Cats model confidence. They move with distinction, poise, and know with certainty that their needs will be taken care of. They do not fear public speaking nor doubt their writing skills.
  4. Cats prompt a range of emotion useful for character development. What cat owner has not received tender gifts from the garden? My Aunt Tessie escaped upstairs in terror after attempting to pick up the ‘toy’ snake Tiger had been playing with in the living room. This gave me a powerful lesson in the physical and emotional reactions characters have to stress.
  5. Cats show us that important fictional and real relationships require love, compassion, and trust. I yet remember that fateful night when I awoke to find my cat nestled next to my tummy, ready to give birth. I learned inventiveness that night as well as respect for the unexpected, useful for plot twists and heightened tension.
  6. Cats nurture the pleasure principle by allowing us to pet them, rewarding us with a low-throated purr, encouraging us to pamper ourselves when we achieve our writing goals.
  7. Cats teach tenacity. When a cat hunts, sneaking forward slowly on unsuspecting prey, no matter the outcome or how many times the goal remains out of reach, a cat will persist. As should we in our story-telling skills and ruthless revision and editing.

And so, my writing friends of ROW80 fame, once a cat is added to your life, I believe your writing will improve, even if you already have a dog leaning on your knee for attention.

by Kopa at Wikimedia Cmmons


Beth Camp

Sunday #ROW80 Check-In

Another week down.  Another week spent not thinking about how I really need to start my Christmas shopping…  Oh wait, that’s not what we’re about here.  WORDS.  WORDS.  WORDS.  Tell us how you’re doing with WORDS!

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Does Your Writing Next Need Reweaving by Shan Jeniah Burton

Fall is at hand – a time when many of us scurry about like busy rodents, sprucing up our family nests to better suit the long indoors months. But, since this is ROW80, I have a question for us all:

What about our writing nests?

I love imagery – since I was a little girl, it’s helped me to make sense out of complicated ideas. I envision my writing life as a sheltering construct woven from interconnected threads, and from time to time, I need to look these over, replace frayed bits, get rid of the debris, and tighten things up. The energy of fall is perfect for this, and that will be my focus for this round. 

Want to join me, and reweave our writing nests together? Here’s a few ideas to get us going.

Assess the Framework:

A nest needs a base structure, a frame to hold all those threads together. Without our bodies – well, we wouldn’t exist in the physical plane, and writing would be much trickier! Let’s give our bodies what they need to support all those other threads:

  • Feed the need. Sometimes, when I’m deeply engaged with my writing, I forget to eat. Not good for creativity or my body. Let’s remember to schedule in food breaks, and eat things that make us feel good.
  • Get a move on! Writing can be sedentary, and time can pass without us being aware of it. Let’s get moving every hour or so, to oxygenate our blood, stretch muscles, and get a better perspective. I do hometending projects in short bursts while writing; I get a happier body and a cleaner house, at the same time!
  • Go into training. Getting up and moving helps, but we need more intensive exercise, too. I’m making room for these in my life – working out or swimming, fitness classes, dancing, jumping rope, going for a walk or a bike ride – what appeals to you? Let’s do it together!
  • Sleep matters. Learning what we need to do to get enough good sleep can do wonders for our writing – and our attitude! 

Give Me Shelter:

One of my goals this year is to make my writing spaces inspiring and functional, with elements that stimulate imagination and promote a calming flow. Small changes can make a big difference -let’s take a look!

  • Repurpose items to suit new needs. Sometimes, just looking at things we have in a new way helps. My desk was once my Grandma’s hoosier cabinet, where she baked and made ‘jells’. Writing there connects me to my own past.
  • Treating ourselves does wonders for creativity. When some small item makes me smile or feels just right for my space, I feel more creative. That’s why my stapler is turquoise!
  • Engage your senses. Colors, scents, textures, and sounds all add magic to my writing nest. Candles, fabrics, music, bits of nature – these give our senses more room to explore!
  • Use symbols. Let’s make space for the personal touches – items that remind us of loved ones, capture a treasured moment, or simply inspire us.

Mindful Matters:

When our thoughts are scattered and disorganized, things we want to learn, explore, or play with can get lost…

  • Taking stock. When thoughts and projects are tangled up, reassess. Bringing even a little order to things gives us something to build on.
  • Make lists; set goals. There’s lots of ways to do this – like ROW80! I have a WIP bulletin board, and my laptop’s calendar feature gives me a visual idea of what I want to accomplish, and when.
  • Make a plan. Knowing the what, when, why, where, and how of our projects keeps momentum moving forward.
  • Learn something new. Like bodies, our minds stay sharper if they get lots of exercise, exploration, and play!

Emotional Threads:

Writing is best when it comes from our deep, powerful places. Who and what feeds our souls, and helps us tap into our deeps

  • Are we connected? Getting enough time with loved ones and friends? Scheduling a visit, even if it’s just coffee or a quick chat, can do wonders!
  • A change of scenery. Creativity soars in places that inspire – even if it’s just the backyard!
  • Let’s indulge ourselves! Yup. Spending time with favorite books, foods, shows, activities – whatever gives us that ahhhhh! Feeling.
  • Breathe. Seriously. Let’s inhale and exhale with intention. Air is life!
  • Smile, laugh, and hug. Need I say more? =)

Shared Threads:

When what we share reflects who we are, we connect with the wider world, and touch others with our words.

  • Sprucing up our blogs or websites. For me, late fall and winter are perfect times to freshen things up byplaying with new layouts, designs, and sidebar items.
  • Oversharing? We can get overwhelmed by all the social media in our lives. Evaluating what suits usnow, and stepping back from what’s less suited, can help.
  • Undersharing? Writers can also feel disconnected, or bored, or like we’re talking to the void – that’s a good time to branch out and try something new. Joining a challenge or group, or even wandering around online to see what’s out there, can inspire connection and ideas.

With a little time, attention, and affection, our writing nests can be strong, beautiful, and inspirational!

Acknowledgment: The inspiration for this post is the essay Building an Unschooling Nest”, at Sandra Dodd. It’s an unschooling site, and so much more! 

Sunday #ROW80 Check-In

Two weeks in!  How’s it going?  Why don’t you take the time to pop by and cheer on some of your fellow ROWers?

And now for a little poll.  There has been some confusion from folks since I always start the Round on Monday, which means we always end on a Thursday, but we do check ins on Sundays and Wednesdays.  Would y’all rather do check-ins on Mondays and Thursdays to line up with the start and end of the round?  This would move the inspirational posts to some other day (Fridays maybe).  This inquiring mind wants to know.


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