Can A Cat Teach Us Something About Writing?

Midge cat and computerI was full of enthusiasm when I began the 500-word challenge on January 1. The first few days, words flowed from my head onto the keyboard. I thought anyone could write 500 unedited words in thirty minutes or less.

Yesterday, I didn’t feel like writing. In fact, three of the last four days, I’ve struggled to make the words come. I tried to work on a piece of fiction. The idea is there, but I’m afraid the story won’t be good enough.

A few days ago, I wrote a post about my disappearing cat, Cruz. I saw him again—four sightings in a week. He’s been lurking near our deck. In the mornings, near daybreak, we can hear his distinctive “meow.” He acts like he wants to come close, but when we call his name he runs away.

Can we learn something about writing from a cat?

Cruz was always a bit scared. He didn’t like to be around many people—only John and me. On occasion, he would make an appearance if my brother stopped by, but would hide whenever anyone else came to the house.

Now, he’s lived on his own for almost four weeks and can’t—or won’t—make the decision to come to us.

As writers, we are often like the cat. We have the desire to write, but sometimes we are afraid. We’re fearful of making that next step. We come close, then back away. We only share our work with a few people. We stop writing. We lurk behind the scenes in obscurity.

Why are we afraid? Insecurity? Rejection? Self-doubt? We can overcome our fears by taking a clue from Nike: “Just do it!”

Write. Don’t worry about editing. Author Terri Blackstock shares this advice to writers, “Don’t get it right, get it written.” Edits come later.

Be bold. Don’t hide in the shadows. Put your work out there for the world to see. If you blog, then blog. You may not always post the most polished writing, but consider Ray Bradbury’s words. “Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”

Silence your inner critic. This is often the hardest. Sylvia Plath says, “Everything in life is writable if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

Set aside a specific time to write. Three of the four sightings I’ve had of Cruz have been in the early morning. When I get up early to write, my mind is fresher. I’m more inspired. For you, another time might be best.

Yes, I learned something about writing from a cat. Don’t be afraid. Share my work with others. Don’t lurk in the shadows. Get up early.

Will you be like my cat—afraid to take the next step? Or will you move forward and write?

  • Brenda McGraw

    Hey Joan. Great post. Great analogy. Hope you are doing well! Keep writing. Keep posting.

    • Brenda, it’s amazing how many things we can learn from our surroundings such as our pets. Thanks for your encouragement! Blessings!

  • Joan, Cruz has morphed into a great analogy for we writers! Thanks for this awesome post on our fears that we have to face down to write. Keep up the good work and writing!

    • Thanks, Sherrey. he is still hanging around – not coming close, but I have a feeling he is moving back in to his territory and overcoming his fears. I’ve faced a lot of fear with writing, but I too am learning to overcome. Blessings!

  • Life and writing lessons from a cat, why not? Just watch them eat, rest, play and sleep whenever they need to and with an enviable ease and grace! I love the way this post moves from doubt to certainty and from a blank page to a beautiful word to bless and encourage others who may be struggling as you were. Thanks, Joan! 🙂 xx

    • Yes, Joy there are a lot of life lessons we can learn from cats. In fact, from all God’s creatures, if we will stop long enough to look and listen.

      Thank for your comments and I’m glad you enjoyed the story. Blessings!

  • Katina

    Isn’t amazing how we can find topics to write about in the most simple and mundane aspects of Life, in any sphere? Wonderful post, Joan!
    Thank you!

    Katina

    • So true, Katina. We just have to look and listen for those opportunities!

  • Just popped over from the My-500- words- a- day site. Nice post. It’s amazing how many everyday things I find that have lessons in them for writers. Or maybe that’s why we write- because we can find lessons in the every day….

    • Mirel – there are so many stories and so many lessons to learn from everyday occurrences if we will just look around. And, as you said, maybe that’s why we writers write!