A Writer’s Bestfriend


When we got our dog, Hobbit, a year ago, I was worried having a puppy would be a huge distraction from work and writing. Puppies take a lot of time: playing, walking, feeding, taking out to use the bathroom, cleaning up after accidents, and more. As it turned out, Hobbit demanded more time than I imagined.

But even though Hobbit took so much of my time, what she gave me in return was far more valuable. As I discovered, when Hobbit would interrupt my work (I often work from home) or my writing time, it provided me with free time to think. My schedule is dominated with mental activities: writing, emailing, reading, teaching, organizing events. Having to regularly step away from my work and engage in a short physical activity: walking, cleaning, standing around waiting for the dog to pee presented my mind with opportunity to disengage from whatever mental task I had been preoccupied with.

These mental breaks give my mind the rest it needs to maintain productivity. It is amazing, I am able to focus more and get more done when I take time to walk Hobbit. Longer walks also provided me with the opportunity for ideas to rattle around my head and percolate without my active effort. It is amazing the clarity, creativity, and productivity that comes during these times away from whatever I am working on; so much so I have learned to always have a note-taking device with me when I step away from my computer.

While puppies are a cute option for a distraction/time-sink, any rhythmic disruption will suffice. Perhaps you can set alarms to remind yourself to stop working and relax. I need someone else to prompt me. Now if you’ll excuse me, Hobbit wants to play fetch.


About Tim Oldenkamp

I am fantasy writer working on my debut novel and a trilogy of short stories. My wife and I recently moved back to our native California after living in Grenoble France for three years.
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