It’s National Walk Your Dog Month in the USofA but as any of us with a canine bestie know, we don’t need a special month, week or day to get out and enjoy the benefits that walkies brings.
For us writers, there are added benefits to heading outdoors that transcend the well-documented advantages that come with sharing our lives with a dog.
Creativity isn’t usually inspired by sitting at a desk staring into the vortex that is a pure white word document. Even the finest new notebook doesn’t inspire in the same way that a walk in the fresh air does. We know this, so why do we need a dog to join us?
No matter how many words you have or haven’t written, no matter how difficult it is to capture the essence of your new character and no matter how many times you have rewritten the plot twist, your dog thinks you are the most amazing person on this planet. If you’re looking for an immediate self-esteem booster, just pick up your dog’s lead and watch their response. You are writing a new chapter in your dog’s life without a second thought and judging by the wagging tail, it’s going to be the best chapter yet.
It’s easy to get caught up in word counts and how much more you still have to write, but your dog doesn’t care. With your canine mood-enhancer by your side, you are eager to step away from your writing. They need you to be present, just as they are, and offer you the opportunity to experience mindfulness in action.
Start your walk by letting go of the writing quandary you have found yourself in. Ask, ‘I wonder what the solution could be?’ and then let your brain take over. As you start walking with your dog, your blood is pumping more oxygen around your body in order to move your muscles and provide your organs with everything they need, your brain included. You are improving your cognitive function as you walk, which in turn will spark ideas and solutions to the question you posed. Movement is as important for the brain as it is for the body; your dog gives you the perfect excuse to experience a multi-purpose workout.
Thanks to the kick-start you’ve given your system, you will instantly reduce the feelings of fatigue that can loom large when sitting at a desk. With that added energy, you’ll feel the stress and anxiety about your work ebb away. Stress is an idea-killer and the quicker you can eradicate it from your writing time, the better.
While you’re walking, you have a captive audience. An on-lead dog can’t escape you thinking out loud and while they might pretend that they’re much more interested in the bottom of a lamppost or your neighbour’s rubbish bin, they’re really just pondering your story suggestions, I’m sure of it. Talk your ideas through, safe in the knowledge that there’s absolutely no risk of criticism or ridicule.
There’s one last reason why walkies will make you a better writer and that is because you will be having fun. Albert Einstein said that ‘creativity is intelligence having fun.’ In order to write our best words, we have to get out of our own way and there’s no better companion to help us than a dog. There’s no ego, there’s no pretence and there’s a bond that allows us to feel safe in our exploration. Our dogs make us better people and better writers, through the fun we have with them, we flood our system with happy hormones and we give ourselves the space for ideas to percolate.
For those of us lucky enough, in our dog we will find our muse.
If you’re wondering why I’m such a huge fan of the impact of dogs on our lives, check out my social enterprise.