If You Want to Write, Get a Cat

It starts out quietly. A gentle mew in the hallway. Then silence. A few minutes later, another gentle mew. More silence. I check the clock. 5:05am. She’ll go away if I’m really quiet. Then, a bit later, there is the light sound of paws on the door. Just a gentle tap, tap, tap, followed by a slightly louder mew. 5:15 am. I hear her body plop down gently on the floor. Oh good, she’s resting there at the top of the stairs. Maybe she’ll go down and look around for a while. Tap, tap, tap. Louder now. More insistent. 5:30 am. And then the meow. No longer a mew. She’s up. She’s been patient. She’s hungry. She’s lonely. I roll out of bed, pull on my sweatshirt and socks, and head downstairs to feed the cat.

I’m up. I might as well get to my writing. And so I settle in to my seat in the kitchen, tap the keyboard to wake the computer, and start my own tap, tap, tapping, creating slices and stories.

Many of the writers I listen to or read about talk about their habit of getting up early to write. Kate DiCamillo talks about how she gets up early and starts writing before her doubting voice wakes up. That voice that tells you it’s not good enough. You’re not good enough. I remember hearing R.J. Palacio speak about how she used to get up in the middle of the night and work for a few hours (She was working a full time job and had young children.) to write what became the middle grade novel, Wonder.

And so, thanks to my daughter’s pandemic rescue kitty, I’m up early and writing.

9 thoughts on “If You Want to Write, Get a Cat”

  1. I love and respect your post. I wrote most of my dissertation between 4:45 and 6 AM. It was a routine I used because it was before the day zapped my energy and before the doubting voice was awake. Glad you have a writing buddy.

  2. I get up early. I love the ritual of it. This post is funny. I can relate to the insistent cat. We’ve resorted to keeping our cat closed up in the kitchen and closing our bedroom door so we can’t hear her mewing. But still, she is right here next to me as I type. Cats love rituals. It’s in their nature.

  3. With our later start time, it feels like a gift to me- the extra morning time. I use it to read slices instead of write. I love that fact about Wonder.

  4. This is so true. I have my electronics to wake me, but, they don’t really “get me up.” They wake me, and then I lay in bed for my meditation. And then I lay in bed even longer, listening to a podcast. And then another podcast or news update. And then it’s an hour later and I’m still laying in bed. Time for a cat!

  5. I liked the way the cats taps became your taps at the keyboard. I didn’t know about wonder being written in the middle of the night. These habits are inspiring.

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