August 26 is National Dog Day, when we paws (get it?) to appreciate our canine companions—especially those adopted from animal shelters. So let’s take a moment to honor (wo)man’s best friend: our clever pups with so much to teach writers about life, love, creativity, and success.
Post your own “Life Lessons From Dogs” in our comments section!
- “Big” is all about attitude. Inside the tiniest terrier beats the heart of a Great Dane. That’s a good attitude for a writer just starting out. Don’t be intimidated by the big dogs: writers with more experience or acceptances. Because it’s not the size of the dog in the fight…it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
- You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. You’re never too old to start writing—or to keep writing! the more life experiences you have, the more stories you have to tell. Even if you’re 103 (that’s 425 in dog years), right now is a great time to start that book you always wanted to write. Remember, every dog has its day—and this day is yours!
- If you don’t know what something is, try to eat it. Okay, we don’t really mean you should eat stuff you can’t identify. But you should try new things. Step out of your comfort zone. As a writer, your success will stem in part from your willingness to embrace different ideas. So go dig up some unexpected and inspiring experiences to enjoy.
- Puppy love isn’t just for babies. When you first start out, you might find that writing gives you a warm glow and a rush of euphoria. But as you spend more time writing—and the inevitable rejections begin to arrive—your initial love affair with your work might begin to change, even fade. Take a cue from your pooch: Never lose your sense of curiosity and wonder.
- Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Sure you might get irritated with an editor or agent from time to time. But a little growl of warning is much better than a bark or bite! It’s a dog-eat-dog industry. But it pays to be nice.
- Be a goofball; it’s good for the soul. Dogs don’t worry about how ridiculous they look when they’re rolling joyfully in muck or letting their tongues wag in the breeze from a rolled-down window. And you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously or be afraid of having some doggone fun—whether you’re writing the world’s most brilliant prose or a bit of “punny” poetry.
- Stop and smell the roses…and the bushes and the fire hydrants. Let’s face it: Writers work like dogs. But everybody needs a break sometimes. So stop, step away from the keyboard, and notice the world around you. Go for a walk. Everybody loves a walk! You’ll feel recharged and motivated when you get back to your desk to write.
- Be “dogged.” Our friends at Merriam-Webster tell us “dogged” means “having or showing the attitude of a person who wants to do or get something and will not stop trying: stubborn and determined.” Your dog is a dogged dog. You can be a dogged writer.
- Don’t let the tail wag the dog. It’s so easy to lose perspective in the writing life. One rejection letter can send a whole tale into a tailspin. Stay focused on your goals, and don’t let the little disappointments bring you down or direct your actions.
- Don’t obsess over stuff that doesn’t please you. Ever notice how dogs don’t dwell on things—like an accidentally stepped-on tail or a momentary lapse in good dog behavior? Take note: If you have a ruff day, forgive yourself, forgive others, shake it off—and do it quickly. Spend only a moment licking your wounds, then move on.
- Everyone loves an underdog. It’s not easy to make it as a writer. But don’t feel bad if you’re not as successful right now as you want to be. We all start somewhere. Sooner or later, you’ll be the pick of the litter. And then—hot dog!—the stories you’ll tell.