Not only have I written picture book stories about Cookie, but just observing his behavior teaches me things I can apply to my writing life. So here are 10 tips about writing from our hamster.
1. Never give up. When you fall, get back up and try again.
Our first hamster was quite small and had a terrible time getting into the exercise wheel. Over and over, he would climb up, fall, and then get right up and try again until he succeeded. When we writers get a rejection, or our critique partners tell us we have a lot of issues to work out on our stories, we must not give up. Keep trying until you succeed!
2. Practice every day and exercise.
Cookie puts me to shame with all his exercise in the wheel. Every day, he runs and runs to nowhere. But he practices! Every day we need to practice writing. Practice only makes us better, right? And a little exercise every day will do us good. I've noticed if I have a big project, a pound or two shows up on my scale. Eek!
3. Eat healthy.
Cookie is such a wonderful example for my kids. He loves to eat veggies and fruit, especially broccoli! What snacks and drinks are we consuming as we write? Some foods can make people tired. Are we eating the right ones?
4. Sharpen your teeth, er mind.
Cookie chews on the bars of the cage and sharpens his teeth. We need to sharpen our minds. We can read craft books on writing, attend conferences, take online writing classes, and read blogs. Stay sharp!
5. Sometimes you must bury something in order to find a nugget.
When we clean the cage, we discover seeds that Cookie has buried. He hides them and finds them later to eat. Sometimes we must bury our manuscript away in a file for a bit and then dig it out to read with fresh eyes. Then we discover that nugget we needed.
6. Get out to have fun.
I read that hamsters can get bored. Usually when Cookie chews on the cage a lot, I know he needs out. He likes to zoom across our floor or roll around in the hamster ball. We writers need to get out of the house before we go crazy. Try a new environment, outing, restaurant, or city. Have fun and then come back to your manuscript with zeal.
Hamsters are nocturnal as you probably know. Sometimes we have to be nocturnal when deadlines loom. If I'm up late at night typing, Cookie is my only companion.
8. Get cozy.
Cookie always makes her bedding spot nice and cozy. She even rips up Kleenex and forms it into a small mound. How's your writing spot? Is it cozy? Are you comfortable?
9. Stay on schedule.
Cookie is faithful in his schedule, waking up, eating, and exercising around the same times. Do you have a writing schedule? I usually write in the afternoons and evenings.
10. Take leaps of faith.
My daughter discovered Cookie likes to leap off the end of the couch, and she catches him. Sometimes we need to take leaps of faith and try risky or new endeavors. Maybe a new genre? something that takes us out of our comfort zone?
~by Tina Cho