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Writing Tip from Puppy: Pay Attention



I learn a lot from my puppy. One of the things she’s teaching me is to pay attention, and I think it’s improving my writing.

When I walked my puppy the other day, she discovered a wiggly worm. She sniffed it and pawed it. She barked at it and got all wound up. She gave me big eyes, like ‘what is this marvelous thing and why haven’t you introduced us before now?’

I probably would have walked right passed that worm, not noticing the way it moved or the variations in its coloring. Who cares about a worm? Does it matter?

I kind of think it does, especially when writing. In no way am I suggesting to get bogged down with details. However, I think it makes sense to slow down and observe. Paying attention to things I might normally ignore, like a worm, taps into a deeper level of  authenticity when I get back to my computer. Paying attention to my puppy’s reactions also adds emotion to my writing.

If I try to see the world through my puppy’s eyes, my senses are overloaded quickly in lots of thrilling ways. For example, who knew a leaf blowing in the wind could be so exciting? For at least part of our walk each morning, I try hard not to focus on anything except her and the way she’s experiencing her surroundings. When I get back to my keyboard, I am refreshed and energized — ready to write.

She and I are going to take a walk now. I can’t wait to see what she sees.

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