A Well-Trained Writer



I took this photo on a recent trip to San Fransisco with my daughter. This dog stood outside a hair salon watching as streams of people passed. She didn’t have a leash. She didn’t move from her spot. If you pet her, her tail didn’t wag. She just stood watch.

As she was trained to do.

Every day we had some memorable dog encounter. Later we read a large billboard announcing San Fransisco as a dog-friendly city. Even when we visited Carmel beach for its sunset, we encountered dozens of dogs without leashes. Inevitably, their human would be ahead of them, and the dog, without being called, would run to catch up to their owner. San Fransisco and Carmel beach are dog-friendly because the dogs are well-behaved.

Our dog, Snickers, on the other hand is not so well behaved. He has yet to be trained.IMG_2589

A well-trained dog becomes so at the effort, time, and expense of their owner. The results are worthwhile though because an untrained dog is a worry, a continual stress, and sometimes, an embarrassment. Inevitably there is more energy spent on an untrained dog then a trained one, without the positive results.

Being that this is a blog for writers, you have likely made the connection.

A disciplined writer, one who can hold their spot, stay focused for hours, and not be distracted will experience a lot more satisfaction than one who hasn’t taken the time to train themselves to sit and write.  We just have to give the time to our writing life (our creative life), train ourselves to write, and we will find ourselves following the ideas on the page as freely as those dogs on the beach. We will discover how simple it can be to “just sit” at the computer and write.

IMG_4837 Julie’s Obedience Training for Writers: 

  1. Commit to a time and place to write for at least 5 days a week. A few of us have created a virtual writing support circle where we meet up weekdays and write together.
  2. Make your life writer-friendly. Create a writing space for yourself that is easy to get to. Ideally, you have a place in your home to write. If not, find that favorite coffee shop or library. (Claim your spot in front of the store and write!)
  3. Choose those three activities (one being to write) that when you put your head down at night you feel great about your day. You feel great because you have at least accomplished these three activities. If possible, do these first thing in the morning. Mine are: meditation practice, walking and (duh), writing. When I have these done in the morning (this is where the training comes in), the rest of my day becomes a wide-open beach to run.
  4. Have two books as companion reads. One book will be a book that inspires you to write, and is in the same genre you are writing in. The second book is one on the craft of writing.
  5. Carry a pocket notebook with you to jot down material to write about later. Consider yourself always “in conversation” with the topics you are writing about.
  6. Keep It Simple and Use What You Have. Don’t get distracted by the pull to purchase the perfect pen or computer. You don’t have to research the topic you are writing about first, you don’t have to be, do, get anything — just write. Don’t hold off your writing till you’ve done the dishes or called your mother. There’s time for all that, later, after you have given time to your writing.
  7. Gather with other writers to write.
  8. Create a writing intention for yourself. “I live an active and generous writer’s life.” Then go about fulfilling this intention, every day.
  9. See yourself as a Writer. Let others in on the big secret too. Come out of the closet if you are in one. Announce to the world, “I am a Writer.” Bark! Run! Then follow your owner home.
  10. Write at least a page a day.
  11. Finally, sign on the dotted line. Commit to some writing project. Send out a query. Blog a poem. Say yes to your writing in some way that makes you accountable to others. I typically get a contract for my books (having written a book proposal) before the book is complete. After getting my advance I then have to sit my butt down and write (because publishers always have deadlines). Give yourself deadlines.


55 thoughts on “A Well-Trained Writer

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