Friday, June 14, 2013

The Sniff Sense


What I Learned from my Dogs About Writing and Writers

Every day my dogs require that we do our pack walk around the neighborhood. They want to walk or trot together, but then they stop individually to sniff those stinky wet compelling sniff spots. They have slightly different tastes in smells (eew, that came out weird), so some stops take longer than others—more to smell read, I guess.

Those dogs that came before, tell my dogs things that only a dog would love, (sorry that was too good to pass up), and then they add their own pee comments on top of the really good ones of others. Sometimes they make their own statements and start their own conversations and maybe brag a bit. It’s all part of the ritual conversation.

When my Buddy (Lhasa Apso with his summer cut) scratches the ground like a bull, I figure he’s proud of his last comment that topped some other dog’s previous comment. Maybe he said something really funny and is applauding himself, but probably not since he doesn't have a very good sense of humor--more the cuddly type.

When Milton (a Ratcha-that's a rat terrier/chihuahua mix) drags his feet in getting started on the walk, I have to pick him up and carry him until he warms to the idea (but his nose is in the air informing him of the latest news) until his curiosity gets the better of him and he wriggles to get down, closer to the action.

Observations on the walk: (You can make the analogies as writers)

-          They are aware of and keep tabs on their pack mates even while they wander a bit on their own.
-          They add notes of confidence when appropriate, to the 'writings' of others?
-          They pace themselves.

My dogs have very different temperaments yet they pack together in a harmonious walk. (Even if they start off pulling in different directions, by the end of 15-20 minutes, they are in sync.) Are your dogs energies all going in the same direction in a harmonious 'walk', or is all the information out there pulling you in different directions? Be a good pack leader and stay in control of your dogs energies.
Writers who stay current daily by reading the work of other writers (blogs, books, articles and social media) learn more quickly and improve their own work, inspire their own creativity and learn the latest in publishing. They support fellow writers.

Writers who pace themselves don't burn out.


Writers who pack together can learn and grow faster than going it alone—or, at the very least, have more fun: 

  • Critique partners that make constructive comments can accelerate your progress by giving you suggestions that you might not otherwise think of. 

  • Online social interactions with other writers glean valuable insights and help. They keep you centered from getting too far into your own head--which might be a very weird place (from some of the writers I know).
So take a lesson from the dogs and try commiserating with other writers.

Do you think writers are better as pack animals? 

Do you learn from your pets? What?

Don't forget to visit other WANA writers who are writing today on the same theme of our favorite pets, real or imaginary: (some very creative blog posts)

(more links will be added as more of our WANA writers add their posts throughout the day)


Liv said...

Such cute puppies! And your theories are really kind of brilliant, Cora. Writers should definitely strive to be pack animals.
(Oh, and there's a link to your post up on my blog now, too.)

Cora said...

Thanks Liv.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, do you think it would be the same walking a cat? No, more like an attack and retreat (right up to the top of your head) adventure. But, perhaps I can herd an imaginary canine pack along on my way to the mailbox.
I most heartedly agree with sharing with other writers. Last night's critique group has me bleeding red ink over my work today. Obviously it was too sterile a recitation, and they let me know it, bless their hearts. And meeting with other writers is very liberating. These people speak your language. Very important in a non-writer's household.
Good one, Cora/

C.L. Swinney said...

You never seem to stop impressing me. This was a great blog with a great message. I've been trying to meet up with real life writers to grow, but my schedule is making it difficult :-( Anyway, this was fun.

Ellen Gregory said...

I really like Kristen's pack analogy and truly value our little WANA pack. Our WANAFriday theme is a great example! And your extrapolation of the subject is fabulous.
ALso, your doggies are cute! Thanks for introducing them to us.

jrlindermuth said...

Love it. Humans often fail to realize how much you can learn from a dog. Much more than from a cat. Cats are selfish and seldom share. Woof!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

What an amazing blog, Cora, and what intelligent insights. One think I've learned over the years about mystery writers on the whole-of course there are some exceptions--is how generous and supportive they are of other mystery writers.

Cora said...

I'll bring bandages next time.

Cora said...

Thanks for the words of confidence. I hope you find a group. Your growth will be many times faster than what you can do on your own.

Cora said...

I love the Friday themes. They make it easier to post a blog that way--kind of like story starters.

Cora said...


Cora said...

Maybe it is because most of us have struggled through so many different aspects of the writing process/business that we want those that follow to have it a little easier and avoid some of the mistakes we've made.

marja said...

I had to chuckle while I read this. We have two very large Yellow Labs, and when they want to sniff their territory it's on their terms, not ours. Fun blog and so true. There's much to be learned from critters in general, especially dogs.
Marja McGraw

Janet Greger said...

Insightful. Let's all hope our books merit frequent and long sniff sessions.
JL Greger, author of Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight

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