Writing lessons learned from my puppy

Tessie's first snow day. About a month ago, Adam and I adopted a retriever blend puppy from Decatur Animal Services. Our mostly well-behaved Tessie has adjusted well, and we've all gotten the hang of our new routine. During that time, I've also learned some valuable lessons from watching her play and grow.

Shit happens. Clean it up, set better boundaries and move on. There's really nothing to be gained except more stress from focusing on it for any longer than you have to.

Chase what you love. Even when it's tough or you just want to nap or it seems someone's stolen your ball -- er, idea -- keep chasing it until you've got a firm grasp. Then, play with it. Come up with a fresh angle of attack and carry it all the way back to your editor.

Multitasking is like trying to fit two toys in your mouth at once. The moment you've got a grasp on one, the other falls out. Personally, I end up getting distracted from one project any time I get an idea about the other and both end up jumbled and in need of a rewrite. Focus on one, and some of the distractions are gone.

Food is really, really important. Recently, time crunches have meant I've eaten too much junk and too few veggies. As a result, my energy levels, concentration and health have taken a nose dive. That's started to change for the better, but still can use some work.

Sleep is even more important. It's OK to flop over and nap when you've tired yourself out running after stories. Just set a timer, get back up and go after it.

Toys and stories are hidden everywhere. Yes, the possibility of rejection makes pitching difficult, but an unwillingness to dig for topics (or treasure or sticks) isn't an excuse. Keep looking and pitching and it'll come together. Promise.

Get out from behind the screen. If Tessie's up on the couch with me, she'll walk on my laptop keyboard and lick my screen if she needs anything. I've taken more productive breaks for a short burst of exercise or mental health cuddles since we adopted her than ever before. As a writer, these breaks prevent burnout and will, ultimately, make me stronger and healthier overall. It also never hurts to spend time with a puppy.