My Twitter profile description says ‘Rescued a dog on numerous published authors’ advice. So far yielded few results.’ Except, some of this is a lie. I have rescued a dog – he’s a characterful Westie called Mac who was saved from the clutches of the pound by the RSPCA. I also sponsor a dog called Zola via the Dogs Trust that, due to circumstances, is not able to be re-homed. I didn’t just do this because dogs appear to be a popular pet with authors, but because I do genuinely love dogs. However, it does seem that there are a selection of authors out there in the world who swear by keeping dogs as pets, not just for the company during the solitary task of writing, but also to force them out into the world and do some exercise – lest they get ‘Writer’s bum’. Therefore, as you might guess, that first sentence is true.
It’s that second part that’s a bit of a lie. Because it has yielded results. When I rescued Mac I was still very much in the early recovery stage of my ME/CFS. I needed an activity that was gentle, enjoyable and didn’t stress my body too much. I also needed something that was going to be essential to my daily routine (as a rule, I hate exercise). I’ve always been a dog-lover and have had dogs in my life since I was a child. Thus, when I found myself dog-less and disabled, my solution was to turn to the one thing that would guarantee me a smile.
Since then I’ve gone from strength to strength in my recovery from ME/CFS and I’ve become a writer. No more an ‘aspiring writer’, no more a ‘writer that struggles to write’ (which was the original sub-title for this blog). I am a writer. And, interestingly, a lot of my ‘writing’ gets done on those gentle meanderings around country parks and along canal paths. Whilst walking my pooch, I let my mind wander and consider my characters, their pasts and their motivations. Sometimes, I even have mini-conversations with them in my head – and I’ll admit, once or twice I may have asked questions aloud…so long as no one else is in sight!
I take Mac on three walks a day. Two of these are generally around the half hour mark, allowing me to enjoy the birdsong (I have become adept at spotting blue-tits and robins on their perches) and giving me just enough time to contemplate the writing I might have to tackle back home. Not only does walking the dog get me out of the house, it scaffolds my writing routine – I go out before I start writing, letting me prepare for the day ahead, and I go out again at the end of the writing day, mulling over what I’ve managed that day.
I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to achieve as much as I have so far without these opportunities to just think about my writing. Ideas have come to me when out walking that I would likely never have stumbled upon if I hadn’t been concentrating instead on the colours of the leaves, or navigating the least muddy path or even just listening to the brook babbling as I chuckle at my dog trying to avoid coming over the slatted bridge.
So, yes, rescuing a dog has yielded many results; far more than I could have expected. I may have written my Twitter description tongue-in-cheek, but really, I can totally understand why having a dog can support a writing lifestyle. Not only do they encourage you to step away from the keyboard, but they’re also there for a cuddle when you don’t make the cut and are facing yet another rejection. They don’t care if you’re published – so long as you feed them, walk them and give them your attention from time to time.
Speaking of which…I’m off to play ball with Mac right now, as a thank you to him for being there and supporting my writing ambition, even if he doesn’t know it!
What about you? Do you a have a pet that helps you get your writing done – or do you have a cat who sits on your keyboard whilst you’re trying to work?
Let me know in comments – or, as usual, Tweet Me.