Short and Sweet Advice for Writers – Write Like a Puppy

Writing is serious business. Doing it well requires study, commitment, and dedication. There is a lot to learn – form, structure, style, voice – more craft nuances than I can name. “Real” writers sacrifice for their art. As Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

BUT …

Sometimes, you just gotta play.

I mean, you don’t want to be this guy, do you?

Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo

I didn’t think so.

Writing may be hard work, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun. The trick is learning to approach it with a different mindset. Instead of coming to your writing with the weight of the world on your shoulders, try thinking about your time at the keyboard as a play session.

Going for it

Going for it

Which brings me to puppies.

Puppies know how to play. They can make a game out of almost anything, and they let loose with wild abandon. They aren’t concerned about following rules or worried about looking silly. They aren’t playing with purpose or comparing their play to another puppy’s. They are simply having fun – being joyful in the moment, exploring, and experimenting.

To a puppy, nothing is sacred. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to play. There is just play. Water = play. Ball = play. Stick = play. Slipper = play. Tail = play. It’s all just one big, happy game – a frolic, a romp, an excuse to roll around on the ground with your paws in the air.

What would happen if you “played” with your writing? 

There is power in unleashing your enthusiasm, so go ahead and loosen up. Follow the example of my friend Shanna’s adorable rescue puppy, Milo, and just let ‘er rip.

And now, for your weekend entertainment, Milo.

A post shared by shanna (@shannatrenholm) on

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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Join me each Saturday for the Weekend Edition (a fun post and great community of commenters on the writing life, random musings, writing tips, and good reads), or introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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Puppy Splashing Photo Credit: cobalt123 via Compfight cc

78 thoughts on “Short and Sweet Advice for Writers – Write Like a Puppy

  1. I agree with this 100%. Putting your heart and soul into your writing makes it so much better. Mechanics are important, but they only take you so far!

  2. This is a great illustration of how writer’s should be! However, I have to say that yes, I would want to be that guy… I mean HEMINGWAY!!!! I wish people read my writing and held it in as high esteem as they do his, then again I was the only person in my high school English class who actually enjoyed Hemingway… lol 🙂

    • LOL, indeed. It’s actually Hugo (though I made the same assumption as you when I first saw it!) … and I don’t think he was nearly as much fun as Hemingway. 😉

      • I’m pleased you liked it. I loved your post, people need to lighten up about writing and have fun with it. If you’ve put all that effort in you at least want it to be enjoyed. Why not enjoy wiring it?

  3. I love this! Experimentation without being self-consciousness is so necessary for writing. I’m now writing with a new spring in my fingers!

  4. Great advice. I took a workshop recently and the leader had us write as fast as we could in a notebook and not worry about punctuation, spelling, etc. It was hard at first but, eventually, I was able to write…maybe not with wild abandon but with less self judgment. Been trying to keep it up.

    • Another great exercise is to try to write as BADLY as possible. I did this in a workshop I took last fall, and though I was at first daunted by the task, it wound up being so much fun & really got me writing with “wild abandon,” as you put it.

      Good luck with continuing to keep it loose and playful!

  5. Terrific! This is so encouraging and on point! That kind of writing is what readers also most enjoy reading! That kind of writing is what readers can relate to! Thanks for the great and wise advice!

    • Thanks! 🙂
      I like to think that this approach can be used whether you’re working on a first draft of something to be shared, or just doing some exercises to help you limber up your mind and your fingers. It’s always a good time to take a play break!

  6. That’s fantastic advice, and one I happily second! Don’t be concerned about the rules when writing, go mad! I write fantasy fiction so if you do too there aren’t even any rules, so why worry about breaking something that doesn’t exist? Have fun!

    • Oh, there are always rules, BUT you can always break them … once you know how. 😉

      Play, whether you’re a puppy or a writer, gives you a wonderful opportunity to try new things without having to worry about any consequences. So, you try something just for fun and it doesn’t work – who cares? You’re just playing around. Maybe twist it this way or tweak it that way. Writing fantasy? Even better – throw in a mythical creature, a new magic system, or another dimension. Anything is possible – let ‘er rip! The point is to shed all your inhibitions and just mess around … even if the end result is just a crazy first draft … again, who cares? Sometimes brilliance comes from playing around. You never know!

    • Thanks for sharing, Danica. We could all use some “cute” writing advice once in a while, right? 😉

  7. This is the most delightful and interesting writing advice I have read for some time. Thank you. Love it!
    i often have felt a bit guilty about the joy I have felt when I have simply written and not worried at all about the format or the impact.

    • There is never enough joy in the world, Faye. I think it’s wonderful you feel joy when you write, and I don’t think you should ever (ever!) feel guilty about that. Not one whit!
      🙂

  8. I really enjoyed this post! What comes the most naturally and playfully is always the best. There’s so much you can do to study writing, literature, style…but when it comes to your voice as a writer, it shouldn’t be a forced one. Always looking forward to having more fun when I write! 🙂

    • So true – you can’t force your voice. It has to evolve and emerge, naturally.
      Three cheers for having fun when you write!
      🙂

    • Awww … now my tail is wagging. 😉
      Thanks so much. Hope you have fun putting it into practice!

    • Oh! I love Wheaten Terriers! THEY know how to PLAY! 🙂
      Glad I got the “woof” of approval.
      Here’s to writing play, and real, live puppy play! Enjoy.

  9. Nice article, I am what you write in your blog..hahaha..just started blogging yesterday..I want to write so many things, or maybe someday become a writer myself..but for now I just want to write..I love your blog.

    • Welcome to the wonderful, wild, and wacky world of blogging. Enjoy the adventure & thanks for coming by. So glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  10. This is wonderful advice, and essentially what I have always done. I shake my head every time I see other writers/ aspiring writers getting into the technicalities of how to “design” a plot using particular methods. Designed plots are predictable, and predictable writing is boring. I think the old writers had a better understanding of writing like a puppy at play. Their work was much less predictable – much less like something you learned in a classroom, much more like an art.

    • I’d hazard a guess that the unpredictable work of the classic writers actually featured a fair amount of intentional design, BUT I also agree that they perhaps had the benefit of a less overwhelming amount of information on the “rules” of writing.

      Mostly, I just like the idea of giving ourselves some writing “play time,” in addition to all the “serious” writing we do. The same philosophy can apply to any art or skill. For instance, though I love to work hard at bettering my equestrian skills in the ring, I also really enjoy just messing around on a trail ride. I think you can have it both ways.
      😉

      • Oh I don’t believe for a second that the plots weren’t intentionally designed. I’m referring to the models and structures of plot design that I’ve been hearing of that decide the “right way” to write a plot.

        When I’m writing it’s always playtime. The serious part was done with all the background research and then finally with the editing. When I’m editing, I’ll see where I probably went overboard and fix it. I edit each chapter after completion and then do a big edit at the end of the book, so it’s not all play and no work for me. I have it both ways!

        Still, excellent advice. Thanks again. 🙂

  11. This is such wonderful advice, particularly while trying to get back into the swing of writing after having some really miserable writer’s block caused by wayyy too much overthinking. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Nicole

    • Hi, Nicole.
      Ahh, yes – the demon of overthinking. I encounter that little imp almost every time I sit down to write. BUT, on the occasions when he sees fit to make himself scarce, the process of writing feels so different. It feels lighter, less stressful, more open and full of possibility. I’d really like to give that little guy the permanent boot. Working on it.
      😉

      TKS for the comment & the tweet!

  12. “Instead of coming to your writing with the weight of the world on your shoulders, try thinking about your time at the keyboard as a play session.” – This will be a sticky note on my desktop screen from now on!. Thanks for writing

    • Ooh! I love earning sticky note real estate. That and fridge space are my two personal halls of fame. 😉

      Thanks much & have FUN!

  13. Great advice and something I’ve been trying to implement for a few weeks. I used to love writing before I tried to make writing a business, lately it’s been feeling more like work. I need to tap back into the the love and playful writing

    • As a freelance writer, I know just what you mean. And, that dichotomy opens up another whole can of worms worthy of its own post.

      I am finding that I really need to separate the two kinds of writing I do. There’s “work” writing and then there’s “my” writing. I try to adjust my mindset when I switch from one to the other. It’s tricky, since I’m only one person, but I think that with a little practice I’ll be able to sort of step in and out of my two writer personas.

      Hope you find your joy again!

  14. Play at my writing? Interesting…I have seen my writing a little like my full-time teaching career- work. But switching perspective and playing with it, well, that may be what I need to open the floodgates of creativity and enjoyment.

    • Opening the floodgates of creativity and enjoyment sounds like a good plan. I’d go with that.
      😉

      TKS!

  15. Reblogged this on writingdevon and commented:
    Now this is a cute, and EXTREMELY helpful article.
    Since I want to be a writer as my career, I always feel like I must approach my works like a “professional writer” should. This mindset limits my ability to get words to a page and consequently depresses me to no end.
    Approaching writing like a puppy sounds much more fun! (And besides, PUPPIES!)

  16. Hi Everyone, called myself Scribbles Freely so I remind myself every day that I am now writing without rules at least for the first draft. I used to edit and re-edit my work to such a degree that I rarely got more than halfway through. I ended up with something so honed I’d be unable to recognise the exciting ideas I started with. Now writing sci-fi this way and still enjoying it.

  17. hey ! loved your post ! i am new at writing and i wanted your help . 🙂 pls help me out ! i wanted to ask that i can express my emotions better in my language that is “hindi” but if i would write in hindi only a particular group of people would be able to understand it ,not everyone. but if i write in english sometimes i just am not able to express properly what should i do? pls help 🙂

    • That’s a tricky question and one I don’t feel qualified to answer, but I bet if you did a few Google searches you will find some articles and/or discussions around the topic of how to overcome language barriers in your writing.
      Sorry I don’t have any other useful info, but good luck & thanks for coming by.

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  19. Thank you for this article! I am new to this blogging world and I feel so insecure with all the terms and negative feed backs I might get. Thank you for giving me a new perspective. To let my heart out is the very reason I started writing anyway. From now on I will write like a puppy 🙂

    • Wonderful. Have some fun with it. The blogging world is actually a pretty friendly place. I hope you enjoy the journey!

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  21. I really enjoyed this, I would have to say this too is my take on writing….. Thanks for the added conformation, I too am new to blogging (as the lady above said) and this just gives me an extra boost of confidence to go forward and be free in what should be freeing in the first place.

    • Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging! 😉
      It can be daunting when you’re first getting started. There’s SO much advice out there (much of it conflicting) about the “right” way to write and blog. Truth is, there aren’t really any 100% effective “best practices.” Each writer is unique and each reading audience is also unique. There are, of course, guidelines and “rules of thumb,” but each blogger needs to find her own groove. That’s when things really start to happen.

      Have fun with it & good luck!

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  24. Dogs can also be incredibly obsessed and focused. My dog is totally and utterly ball addicted. Gets really excited when visitors turn up because they’d throw his ball. Writing requires that same dogged passion, or is inspired by it.
    xx Rowena

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