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My New Writing Coach is a Puppy

July 16, 2010

I have a few other blog posts in the works, but most of those take some time for “research,” so it may be a week before I can get one of those up.  So, in an effort to keep the blog alive, I wanted to introduce you to my new writing coach:  Cooper (not to be confused with Mr. Cooper).

Cooper is a 10-week old Labradoodle puppy and who we’ve had for about three weeks now…and man have I learned a lot.  Those of you out there with actual kids won’t need to be told this (and in no way am trying to say that having a dog is anywhere near as hard as having a baby), but if you’ve never actually had to care for another living being before, it’s quite a transition!  Over the past few weeks, I’ve tried to pull out some useful tidbits of knowledge that Cooper has taught me that can be applied to writing, so here are three of them:

Life is never going to get less busy, so write something today: All of us are prone to procrastination, but I think the worst kind of procrastination is the one where you convince yourself that you’ll finish that script when things slow down.   “When I graduate college, I’ll have a ton of time to write!”  “Next week, I’ll have less work to do.”  “Tomorrow, I’ll wake up early and have an extra hour to write.”  The truth is, at least based on my experience, that life only gets more busy and complicated.  Less than one year ago, I lived with my girlfriend in a condo we rented together.  Today, we own a townhouse together and we have a little puppy running around biting everything.  In hindsight, I definitely did not make use of all that extra time I had last year–Now that time is filled with painting, mowing the lawn, watering grass, taking trips to Ikea, walking Cooper, etc.  Now, I’m not complaining at all; I’m happy with the way everything is turning out.  All I’m saying, is that I should have used my free time last year a little bit more productively.

Don’t be afraid of (dog) sh*t:  When you think about getting a dog, you always consider the tricks, the wagging tail, and how much fun he’s going to be, but you can’t have all that without the endless defecation that he supplies.  Once he arrives you don’t have much of a chance to think about it, but before you know it, you’re holding your breath, while bent over with a bag on your hand.  I haven’t done the math, but the ratio of wagging tails and face licks to pounds of dog feces isn’t probably at the desired level for any dog owner.  But, you get used to it and it eventually becomes part of the normal routine.  Here’s where the writing tip finally comes into play…  In order to write that brilliant sitcom/screenplay/novel, you can’t be afraid to occasionally (or frequently for some of us) write pages and pages of crap.  Especially during those first few scripts.  The first script I ever wrote could easily be considered worse than Paul Blart:  Mallcop.  However, given the success of that film, I will keep the idea around in case I need to sell-out for a large sum of money.  Either way, my script was complete sh*t.  Over the years, I’d like to think I’ve learned to write a smaller percentage of crap, but at this point I don’t care.  Worst case scenario I throw it away and start over.  That’s not so bad, right?  Oh, I forgot to mention the worst case scenario for the puppy. That would be when there’s a hole in one of the “doggie doodle” bags and you don’t realize it until…well, you get the point.

Get out there and socialize: All the experts recommend socializing your dog as much as possible.  I’m not sure what exactly, but they learn a lot of “dog skills” that are vital for being a healthy/happy dog.  Cooper loves other dogs and I can defiantly see how socializing him helps keep his energy and happiness in the “extreme tail-wagging” zone.  Writing is somewhat of a private act, but much like puppy play dates, it can be very beneficial to socialize yourself with other writers.  If you’re in L.A., you’ve probably accidentally been a part of an L.A. writing group if you’ve wandered into the right coffee house.  For those of us outside the unholy land, it might be a bit harder, but still well-worth it.  Check online forums, Craigslist, and even community colleges for writing classes.  I have a pretty solid group of friends that I write with and I think we all have strengths and different points of view that are transmitted to each other subconsciously through our writers meetings.  Plus, it’s energizing to spend a few hours with people who have the same interests and dreams as you–Some days I walk into class exhausted from my day job, but by the time I leave I’m wagging my metaphorical tail.

I could probably extend this list to at least ten, but it’s Friday and we all have things to do.  So, I’ll end it here and maybe pick it up again sometime soon.  Feel free to add stuff that you’ve learned from your pets, kids, or even inanimate objects…

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