Thursday, December 16, 2010

Who’s Walking Who?

How Writing a Novel is like Walking a Dog

Isn’t who’s walking whom the correct grammar for this post title? Anyway, now that we have that out of the way let’s get to it. The following indicate ways a stroll with your pet pooch resembles crafting a novel…

While writing a novel we find ourselves:

TuggedOur ideas and our characters pull us forth. My parents used to have a dog that wheezed so hard when they walked her I swore she would lose a lung on the sidewalk. What does this have to do with writing a novel? Some characters are tenacious. We lose sleep because they invade our dreams. Some ideas yank so hard we feel a visceral pull in our arm as we type away at the keys.

Performing Clean Up DutyWe all deal with the fear we are writing crap. It’s part of being a writer. Well at some point, if we’re determined enough we’ll avoid stepping in those thoughts and clean them up. We’ll pick up the “I can’t do it” thoughts and chuck them in the trash along the way. (All part of the journey.)

TangledNot the movie, tangled up in the leash. When she was a puppy, our dog used to nip at her leash and turn in circles whenever we began walking. Excitement at its best. When we write a novel it’s easy to get tangled up when we try to apply the right amount of conflict. We’re also easily pulled in different directions if we are SOTP writers and not Plotters. Even when we plot, a new brainstorm can cause us to sprint down rabbit trails. We have to work hard to make sure the story is still moving forward.


Checking in with FriendsWriting is a solitary adventure. Most of the time. Beta readers and critique partners can be comrades on the path. They help the whole editing process go a little smoother with their keen eye and their detailed feedback. Thankfully, because we are a more refined species our means of checking in with each other doesn’t compare to the way dogs touch base.

On a Hunt for WaterThe novel is written. Edited. Our readers have given input. Now what? The dog rolls on its back to have its belly scratched. Not quite. They want water. We have to get our novel published. So we search for agent. Said agent connects us with a publishing house and there you have it…simple, right? Something to keep in mind when we hit this stage—dogs are relentless about quenching their thirst. You have the satisfied feeling of completing a novel. Is it time to quench your thirst?

*photos from flickr

7 comments:

Heather Sunseri said...

I'm not much of a fan of clean-up duty. :) I love this, Wendy!

Keli Gwyn said...

What a clever analogy, Wendy. I love the tugged stage of writing and do my best to slog through the clean-up duty, tossing those troublesome thoughts that plague me at times. Right now, I'm feeling mighty thirsty. =)

Which stage describes where you're at in your writing journey?

Sarah Forgrave said...

Oh Wendy, you're right. If only it could be that simple to find water. Of course, the one thing you forgot to mention is getting off the couch and grabbing the leash in the first place. :)

Jody Hedlund said...

You are hilarious, Wendy!! Love your humor! And what is it about dogs and the need to smell--well, you know. So glad we don't greet one another THAT way! :-)

Unknown said...

Nice analogy. What about when the dog runs so quickly around you that the expanding leash cuts a rope burn in your calf that starts bleeding? Maybe that's covered under Tangled. Haha.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Heather, I hear you on that one! Thanks for swinging by!

Keli, I probably have a foot in each stage, but am on that hunt for water for certain. Here's to hoping your thirst is quenched SOON!

Sarah, Getting off the couch...right. But you know me, my problem is taking the time to chill out on the couch and stop walking for a change.

Jody, I debated adding that point in as telling as you did. I decided to write the word refined. I love that you just put it out there. You are so good at that. Thanks for the RT! You know I think you are super cute. ;)

Cameron, Rope burn. Nice. So that translates to a bleeding plot? Hmm. Fun to think about how to add this one in.

Thanks for playing. This was a comical one to write.

~ Wendy

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Ha! I'm in the Performing Clean-up Duty Stage and it stinks :D I love this, though. Kind of puts things in perspective...in a strange way.