7 writing lessons learned from my kitten

Last time, I went over the most overused piece of writing advice out there: kill your darlings.

I received some criticism that I pointed out a flaw without offering any advice of my own, which just shows me people don’t read to the end of my posts, because I clearly offered up some ways of phrasing it different so it worked better.

Still, It’s only fair that I do my part to help out other aspiring (or even established) writers out there. And I was able to get some inspiration from my kitten, Tiberius.

Two notes before we get started. 1) Yes, he really is still a kitten, even though he is the size of a full-grown cat. He’s not yet 8 months old, though he weighs the same as our six-year-old cat. 2) I’m an aspiring writer, not a photographer. Deal with the picture quality.

Lesson 1: Have Fun
Tiberius always makes time for play. Of course he does, he’s a kitten. But there’s a good lesson in that. If you aren’t having fun, what are you even doing? Enjoy it or don’t do it.


He plays like this a lot. It’s the only way he’s still enough for me to take a decent picture of him while he’s playing.

Lesson 2: Let It All Hang Out
Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about being embarrassed. Just get everything out there. If you’re going to write, give it everything you’ve got. Doubts or self-consciousness will only hold you back.

all-hanging-outLesson 3: Give It Your All
This is related to the last piece of advice, but a little different. This is about being present when you’re writing. Tiberius is either moving at 100% speed or 0%. He just goes and goes until he gives out. Then he’s just done.

Wherever he is when he's done is just where he's done.

Wherever he is when he’s done is just where he’s done.

Similarly, when you sit down to write, give it everything you’ve got. All of your attention, all of your energy, needs to go into your writing. When you’re done, you’re done, but while you’re there, be there 100%.

Lesson 4: Aim High
Tiberius is always looking up. Literally. He’ll just stare at the ceiling meowing. There’s nothing there, but he’s always aiming high.

One of his favorite spots is at the very top of his cat tree, as high as he can go.

One of his favorite spots is at the very top of his cat tree, as high as he can go.

Follow his lead. Aim for the top spot, whatever it might be. Don’t try to write the Mediocre American Novel–go for the Great American Novel. Or whatever the similar idiom for works of poetry or nonfiction or whatever you’re into are. Be like Tiberius and just stare at the top of the bestseller list and scream at it for no discernible reason.

It hasn’t gotten him anything yet, because, again, there is absolutely nothing there. But he’s looking in the right place.

Lesson 5: Go Outside Your Comfort Zone
One of Tiberius’ other favorite spots is in a box that he no longer fits in. As you can see below, one of the corners of the box has broken due to the pressure he exerts on it with his expanded size. His neck is pushed into an uncomfortable position. But he knows that to be great, you have to make yourself uncomfortable sometimes.


Unless the lesson is that you should try to fit in? And don’t think outside the box? Maybe this wasn’t the best behavior to try to learn from.

Lesson 6: Get Up Early
According to Tiberius, the best time to do things is at Early O’Clock. Generally about an hour before my alarm is set to go off, he goes off instead. He runs maniacally throughout the place, mostly our bedroom. He darts across us as he goes from one end of the room to the other. He yells. He crashes into the window as he runs through the blinds.


I don’t have a picture for this one, since it’s before I’m ready to wake up and he’s also moving too fast. So here he is letting it all hang out some more.

He’s really kind of a jerk about it. If you’re going to follow this advice and try to work your craft when everyone else is sleeping, it would probably be better to do it in a quieter manner. Like, don’t jump up and down on their bed. It won’t help your writing to do that, and it makes you a real jerk. Just the jerkiest jerk.

And maybe recognize that time doesn’t work for everyone. Maybe some people work better during the day or later at night. Maybe think about others sometimes, you know?

Lesson 7: Know How to Write
You know, after the last couple lessons, I started doubting if Tiberius was teaching us the best ways to write. So I put him to the test. I put a laptop on the floor and let him get to work. He couldn’t write a single coherent sentence!

I even had to log into his account for him. What a jerk!

I even had to log into his account for him. What a jerk!

So here’s the real lesson: if you want to learn how to write, you shouldn’t listen to my stupid kitten. He can’t do anything to help you. He’s a selfish jerk who doesn’t know anything.

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