Why every writer needs a cat

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Forget Robert McKee’s Story. Ignore Stephen King’s On Writing. There’s just one secret to becoming a professional writer, and making it your career.

It’s CATS.

1: Build your staying power

If you find it hard to focus and stay on task, simply place a cat on your lap and let it go to sleep.

You are never allowed to move again. Or pee. Good luck.

From above: a fluffy ginger cat is curled up on a lap, with a laptop close by. The cat is sleeping.

2: Sharpen your concentration

Write extensive vital story notes, then wait. Can you remember what you wrote?


Rear view of a black cat with white socks standing on a notepad on a desk, next to a laptop. The tail swishes past the camera.

3: Be open to collaboration

Buy a pen. It’s the cat’s now. Maybe he will write your book.

A ginger kitten lying on a bedspread covered in stars. Underneath the cat are two sheets of paper. Its paws are holding a pen.

4: Maximise your non-writing time

Cats are self-cleaning, thanks to their delightful brillo tongues. Save wasteful shower time by eating a packet of crisps and allowing the nearest cat to lick you clean.

A blurry action shot of a black tuxedo cat, licking its shoulder.

5: Stay motivated

Planning a weekend lie in instead of getting up early to write? Oh no you’re not.

Thanks for the motivation, cat!

Very tght close-up of a small ginger cat with huge eyes, looking plaintive.

6: Stay accountable

Is someone watching you, author-on-Twitter-instead-of-writing?

You’re being watched, and you’re being judged.

A black tuxedo cat sits at the top of a flight of stairs, its paws neatly tucked. It had wide green eyes, big white whiskers, and it looks alert and questioning.

7: Secure your cliffhangers

Struggling to find that smart new plot idea to keep the pace up?

Invite a small danger beast into your home. Then simply sit back and observe.

8: Grow a thick skin

Prepare for the inevitable rejection letters. Approach your cat with hopeful open arms, only to be put firmly in your place.

A black cat with its leg cocked, licking its bottom.

9: Feel inspired

You could write a book about a cat! A big cat! You can’t leave the house because of the cat so you will stay here forever writing about the powerful cat! He’s eaten all the food! He’s drunk all the water out of the tap! He’s a tiger! He’s come for tea! Maybe you shouldn’t write this book.

A ginger kitten looking alarmed, with big ears and perky ears.

10: Ok, seriously: cats are great.

Being a writer will be hard (sorry). Sometimes it will make you miserable.

But a cat is a purry friend who doesn’t care if you’ve finished your word count, done your edits, been rejected by agent #23, or have no idea what happens in chapter 5.

They care if you’ve fed them, and you can definitely do that.

A large sleeping tuxedo cat, sprawled on a comfy bed.

Good luck.

With thanks to Pan and Ludo, who received many Dreamies for their services to the writing community. If you’d like to know what I wrote with their assistance, here’s my new book: Max Kowalski Didn’t Mean It.

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