The Pros and Cons of Writing in the Presence of a Pet

While visiting home recently, it hit me how much more I enjoy the writing process when the family dog is lying at my feet. My pal Rocky, our yellow lab, has become my writing sidekick when I’m visiting upstate NY, and there are definite pros and cons to his watchful eye…I also used to live with cats too (eh, not as big a fan) and I found many similar pros and cons. Let me know if I missed any!

Pro: They’re always there to listen when you need to ramble about a passage or character, and I do sometimes ramble on about places in a story where I’m stuck when no one else is around. It helps clear out the head and get things straight with a willing (if captive) audience.

Con: They always think your idea is a great idea, so the feedback quality isn’t exactly “professional grade.” But hey, we all need cheerleaders, even those happily watching us write ourselves into infinite corners.

Pro: Foot and/or lap warmer on cold winter nights and chilly spring/autumn mornings.

Con: Ten pounds of hair are now static-clinging to your clothes for the rest of your life.

Pro: They can provide a pleasant distraction when they need to eat, play, or go outside. I need distractions about every 15 or 20 minutes when writing (I tend to write in bursts) so this is perfect.

Con: Each pet on the planet wants to eat, play, and go to the bathroom about as often as a maternity ward full of newborns. And once they figure out successful ways of telling you this, welcome to a lifetime of constant mewling, nudges, barks, and whimpers.

Pro: They could probably edit your work better than you.

Con: They might actually try to and run roughshod over your keyboard (cats, looking at you).

Pro: They make you feel like you’re not alone in the struggle. No matter how distressed you get or how rejected you feel when your writing doesn’t strike a chord with an editor or agent or reader, your pet is always there, still thinking you’re a champ.

Con: No con for this. Even if your pet is the only other being on the planet who believes in you, that’s enough. And they’re not the only one, by the way. They’re just the best one.

Con: OK, yes there is another con. Those lazy jerks won’t promote your book online. Their word of mouth is pretty lame. What gives? Get a damn Goodreads account already…

Pro: When you’re done writing and ready to play, you have a built-in pal ready to go on a moment’s notice…unless they’re sleeping, or you have a cat and they’re plotting to destroy the world and don’t want to be distracted. I used to know a cat like that. If he were human, he definitely would have been a mass murderer. Definitely. There was no "play time" with him.

Con: A final con, and that would be “watch your manuscript.” I’ve left more than one printed manuscript or story out that a dog ate or a cat shredded. Why? Oh god, why? I thought we were pals? You are, but that’s their way of telling you—don’t forget to back up your work!

Seriously, back up your work.