5 Powerful Lessons My Dog Taught Me About Writing
As I sat down to write this, my dog sat down in front of me.
I rubbed her head.
She licked my hand.
Then she walked over to the door and turned her head to look at me.
“It’s that time, isn’t it?”
She wagged her tail and held her ground.
Of course, I got off the couch and took her outside to do her business. When we returned, she showered me with affection and lay down for yet another nap.
Delilah the four-legged teacher
As writers, we’re always looking for illustrations.
Delilah knows how to get what she wants. Every. Single. Time.
A forever home.
Whatever she wants.
Would you like to know how she does it?
Here are four simple but powerful lessons Delilah taught me about persuasion.
The beautiful thing is you can do these things every day, and you don’t have to learn any complicated strategies to practice them.
Let’s dive in.
Treat your readers like your best friends.
Every day when I open the door, Delilah runs to it to greet me.
She doesn’t care what kind of day I’ve had. She doesn’t stop to ask me if I’m happy, sad, or tired. She just gives me all the love she has to offer, no questions asked.
And if I don’t return her love, she’ll try again tomorrow.
How can you show your readers you love them?
Write to them like you’re writing a letter. Brew some coffee and have a heart-to-heart conversation. Read it aloud before you publish and make sure it doesn’t sound like a lecture.
People read your writing by choice.
Delight them and they’ll choose you again and again.
Get excited about what interests your readers.
Delilah gets excited whenever she sees us. I can talk to her about whatever I want and she’ll never judge me.
The way to anyone’s heart is to make their interests your own.
I learned this from Dale Carnegie three decades ago.
Nobody cares what you care about.
When you meet someone for the first time, what do you do? You ask them to tell you about themselves. Do that, and people will talk all day — especially if you listen with enthusiasm.
Do some research. Get to know people. Listen to what they say. Let them rave, rant, and brag. The time you give them might be the best gift they’ve ever received.
And it’ll help you write stuff they’ll love.
Pay attention to what your readers are doing.
Delilah knows when I open the front door.
She sits by the table when we have dinner to see if we’ll share.
She follows us around the house to make sure we’re okay.
Are you involved in writing groups? Do you have a few close writer friends to encourage and challenge you?
Pay attention to what they’re doing.
Celebrate their victories.
Help spark their creativity when they feel blocked.
Share ways they can shine so brightly it turns darkness into light.
When you lift others, you lift yourself.
Assume the best.
When Delilah sits down next to me at the table, she expects me to give her something.
I usually do. I mean, who can resist that cute expression?
And she sits so patiently.
She doesn’t stick her nose in my food either.
When you write, do you expect your readers to get what you mean?
Do you expect you’ll write something great, or at the very least something that’s worth reading?
People are busy. You’ve got to wow them to get them to give up a few precious minutes to spend with you — especially if they don’t know you already.
So how do you wow them?
Do like Delilah. Be audacious. Get in their faces. But don’t be rude about it. Make them smile, laugh, or find you charming.
Or as Steve Martin says, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”
If you sit in the next room and wait for someone to notice you, it may not happen.
Write everything assuming the best will happen.
Show up consistently.
Delilah never misses a meal.
She also regularly comes to me so I can pet her, walk her, and let her lick my hand.
She’s never too busy to love us.
How often do you write?
I write every day. I may not publish every day, but I do it as frequently as I can.
I’m not going to tell you how often is enough. I will say this — publish before your readers forget you. Better still, show up often enough that they miss you when you’re gone.
My son and I went on a trip for three days last month. My wife says Delilah looked for us every night. When we returned, what a welcome we got!
I’m not sure who missed the other more.
When your readers enjoy your company, they’ll follow you anywhere. When you love them, you’ll find time to write no matter how busy you are.
Applying the lessons
Think about how you can become your reader’s best friend.
Here’s a few things you can do now:
- Be generous. Show your love by sharing something valuable. And do it without expecting anything in return.
- Expect the best. When you sit down to write, dig deep and share something awesome. You won’t always hit it out of the park, but you’ll definitely take better swings with that attitude.
- Show up because you love the work, not because it’s an obligation. If it starts feeling like a chore, rekindle the spark that got you writing in the first place.
- Find some other writers to get excited about. The journey is more fun when you’re not traveling alone.
Love your readers and they’ll love you back.
Then you can make friends as easily as man’s best friend.