Bad Dog: train the writer in you.

When Sock-dog gets caught with a Ked in her mouth, we take it away and scold her.  She cowers and slinks away–likely to look for another sock that she’s not quite so willing to give up.  What we should do is scold her WHEN she digs them out of the hamper so the punishment is linked to the behavior we want to change. 

As it is, she associates “Bad Dog.  No.  Naughty.” with giving us the sock.

Hello, yes we’ve raised other dogs, as well as four children.  It’s amazing they all don’t piddle on themselves and have more tic(k)s than a crazed coon hound running through the forest. 

Sometimes parents–and dog trainers–are just dumb about certain things.

Writers, too.

We punish, not reward.  Our consequences rarely fit the crime.  

As a writer, my biggest naughtiness is my desire to write.  I could sit with my manuscript from the second I wake up to the minute I fall asleep and be happy.  Seriously, it’s about as addictive as a tube sock is to our lab.

And so the training begins.  “Self,” I ask.  “What do you need to accomplish today?”

My answer: write, laundry, write, floors, write, work out and WRITE

“Self, what is the least pleasant of these activities?”

*hold on while I change out a load of whites*

And so I play games to reward my good behavior.

HERE’S MY SYSTEM

  •  Throw a load in, blog.
  • When the load is done washing, I will work on housework only until the buzzer announces that my laundry is dry and can be switched out–my cue to take a writing break.
  • During this laundry cycle, I will write.
  • Wash, dry, repeat until there is nothing left to do but write. 

If I don’t vac floors, cook dinner, put away laundry and shape up my tushy with a sweaty work out, I’ll hang my head and slink away when DH comes home.  The guilt will eat me up and I’ll feel crappy.  Then I’ll promise to redeem myself tomorrow by getting above list done, only to write my day away…again.  Because truly, writing is the reward and I got my fix by writing.

 It’s what makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

But I want to feel fuzzy without the guilt.  Just like Sock-dog does.  So today when she gets caught with a sock in her mouth, I’m going to praise her for giving it up, let her follow me into the laundry room where I will put the sock in the basket–deliberately in front of her.  When she leans in to sniff it–cuz that’s what dogs do–I’ll let loose my litany of “Bad dog.  No.  Naughty.”

I vow to be a better trainer from this day forth, whether I’m training my dog, my kids or myself.

I’ll try to reward the good behavior and make sure the punishment fits the crime.  That said, if you don’t see me around for a day or two,  you’ll know that I’ll be wallowing in heaps of unwashed clothes, a dog-hairy floor and a self-imposed punishment. 

How about you?  What stands in your way of writing guilt-free?  How do you plan to curb your inner, naughty-dog?

Curious minds want to know.

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4 responses to “Bad Dog: train the writer in you.

  1. For me it’s more I feel guilty when I am doing anything other than writing. Watching a film, say, I feel like why am I doing this when I could use this time writing? I try not to beat myself up over it, tell myself I write because I enjoy it, and that occasional down-time is much needed!

    • Jayne,

      That sounds like an awesome problem to have! I’m quite sure you use your time wisely and don’t really need to flog yourself over a movie or much-needed down-time.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective!

      hugs~

  2. I’m afraid that I don’t do guilt very well.

    I do what I want first, and what I SHOULD do when I get around to it.

    Which explains why my floors always need mopping and why I rarely brush my hair.

    The exception to this is that I DO cook dinner pretty much every night, from scratch, whether I feel like it or not–because food is important.

    But otherwise, I’m awfully self indulgent. At least nobody here seems to mind.

    • Michelle,

      You make my day! Really, a family dinner is one of the most important parenting aspects around. So I’d say you’re spot on with not being seflish–unless, of course, you’re forcing your fam to eat things not fit for human consumption. But I doubt very much that this is the case!

      Cheers to guilt free writing!

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