May 29, 2008
Over the years, my dog, Riley, has taught me a lot about life, love, and yes, even writing. Resting here on my office floor, she’s been with me through countless copywriting assignments, phone interviews, and research sessions—heck, she knows the business so well that if she had opposable digits, I’d hire her!
Here are some of valuable lessons I’ve learned about writing from my dog:
Stick to a schedule.
Riley wakes up at the same time every day and follows the exact same schedule: walk, eat, nap, play, walk again, eat again, sleep. Like dogs, we humans thrive on routine. Even though my life as a freelancer is quite flexible, I follow Riley’s lead and set and adhere to a schedule every day. It makes me a much more productive writer.
Listen and be rewarded.
Riley learned this one pretty early on in life. If she sat when we told her to, she’d get a treat. If she stayed when we told her to, she’d get a treat. You get the picture. This concept applies to writers too: If you listen to your clients’ needs and objectives, you, too, will be rewarded in the form of repeat business and client referrals.
That mutt of mine is exceedingly faithful to me (and my husband). After three years, she still gets really excited to see us every time we come home. It’s a great feeling. Likewise, we freelancer writers should be loyal to our clients. Always answer the phone. Reply to emails right away. Be enthusiastic. And don’t give anything less than 100 percent to every project you take on.
Protect what’s yours.
For the most part, Riley is very sweet and easygoing. However, if another dog tries to take her food or her bone—or her owners’ attention—the hair on the back of her neck goes up and the growling starts. The lesson I learned here is to actively safeguard your writing, your clients, and your reputation. If someone gets too close for comfort, show some teeth.
We have a stone wall on our property that houses an elaborate network of chipmunk tunnels. They’re constantly going in one space and popping out another. This amuses Riley to no end. She just can’t get enough of these mysterious critters, and her eagerness to learn more about them is a great lesson for us all: Ask lots of questions, search for facts everywhere, and keep peeping in those dark holes. You just never know what might pop out at you.
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