3 Writing Lessons I Learned in Dog Obedience School

3 Writing Lessons I Learned in Dog Obedience School

Reader Comments (29)

  1. One of the most important things I learned in dog obedience school is to be clear and succinct. Dogs don’t understand long commands … and I’ve come to believe people enjoy a concise call to action.

  2. Mark – I don’t know about all of that, but thanks for the compliment! πŸ™‚

    Cybele – As you can probably tell, my muse has a penchant for wordiness, but that’s a good tip.

    By the way, everyone feel free to leave any additional tips in the comments here. There are lots of ways to apply the metaphor, especially considering the creativity of the Copyblogger readership. πŸ™‚

  3. This sounds like a challenge… I’m game. But I have a question: How long do you think it takes the average writer to tame the Muse into obedience?

    Because, as we know, there are breeds of dogs as there are breeds of writers. I’m probably a Schapendoes or a Husky – high energy, easily distracted and needing looootsa toys and room to roam. Problem.

  4. Great analogy! I think something that’s missing though is rewarding your muse when they are obedient! It’s hard to keep your muse motivated if they aren’t rewarded for their work. I think that’s where a lot of bloggers get frustrated, present company included.

    You take several hours to bang out what you muse has given you and zippo no reaction, no comments, no traffic, no new subscribers!

    I find the best way to keep the muse happy sometimes, is to write some content based on long tailed keyword research , then apply some simple SEO practices to my post. In my experience this has lead to quick results within a few days with some top 10 rankings and new readers to your blog. That’s a reward that muse seems to love. lol

  5. James – I hadn’t even considered that angle. Good one! I’d like to think my muse is a golden retriever — easily distracted but thrilled to serve and needs LOTS of attention.

    Work at Home – Very true. I was hoping someone would come up with that one.

    Deb – Nooo… keep them separate. Otherwise, you might wake up to find they’ve staged a coup d’Γ©tat. Looking to your dog for advice is a good idea though.

  6. Thanks for the insight.

    It’s amazing what happens when we don’t take the time to honor our creative muse.

    Sometimes we expect our muse to sit up and perform and all it does is roll over and play dead.

    But I agree that we should give our muse it’s much needed TLC, for keeping it alive and energized is definitely well worth the effort.


  7. I prefer the third world mentality “when you’ve had a bad day, go home and kick the muse”. I don’t have a dog and am not into animals but I do kick my muse. Perhaps that’s why it is so obedient…lol.

  8. This is a wonderfully pertinent post as we recruited a yellow labrador puppy to our household earlier this year and I’ve been taking her to obedience classes. She’s very good, but my friends tell me I that I still need more discipline.


  9. My muse used to complain that I wasn’t letting her be herself, that I always demanded that she fell in line. Eventually, we learned to accommodate each other, and our relationship is currently the greatest it’s ever been! πŸ˜€

  10. I love this post! You are so right, in that we writers tend to blame our ineffectiveness on our muse, rather than on our own inconsistencies. Terrific tips! πŸ™‚

  11. The metaphor of the dog and dog training really brought this lesson home for me. Thanks. Hey, was it a little internet marketing joke on your part to use “dog training” as an example since dog training is so overdone on the web now?

  12. If you ask me, creativity isn’t something that you should constrain in a leash. I’d rather encourage it’s wild freedom.

  13. Really good post filled with good advice… I do suggest allowing your muse to take a break SOMETIMES… otherwise she might lash out at you πŸ˜›
    I also realized something else wit this post: my dog OWNS me lol

  14. Wait – humans are supposed to have authority over dogs?

    I’ve just suggested this to the Large Munsterlander sat by my desk. She reminded me who picks up whose sh!t.

  15. Okay, now address burn out; that which happens when you force the muse for long periods of time and she runs off to Tahiti.

  16. Great Post. I agree with work at home scams. There has to be reward fit in there somewhere. As the owner of a dog , I find that to keep going sometimes it works for me to go out and exercise. I take her with me and it curtails her boredom and it gives me a “break” and allows me some free creative thought and relieves the self-induced pressure cooker valve. Trail running is good for that. I come back refreshed and with a fresh mind-set.

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