Every morning during the week, my wristband buzzes at 4:30 AM. It’s a subtle vibration that wakes me and (hopefully) doesn’t disturb my wife as much as an actual alarm clock wailing into the darkness. I slide out of bed and shuffle downstairs to my own personal altar, otherwise known as the spot where we keep the coffee maker. It is there that I pour myself a cup of the elixir of the gods to help me wake up fully and become alert and coherent enough to actually type words onto a virtual page.
After half an hour spent eating breakfast and checking in on my day job to make sure the world isn’t ending, I settle in to my writing chair and focus on whatever it is I am working on at that time. The moment I sit in the chair it becomes like a cone of silence and focus and I usually do nothing else for the next hour. This has been my routine for almost six years now. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
A few months ago, we added a new member to our family, a beautiful Boston Terrier puppy named Luna. She joined our already well-established Boston Terrier named Pearl. Although she was an older puppy when we got her at seven months old, she still requires the requisite attention that puppies need to get trained and familiar with her new home, and given that I’m the first one up in my household every morning, it made sense for me to take care of her first thing to get her into her routine. Just as I have my morning regimen, she needed hers, but little did I realize that she’d become part of mine so quickly.
Luna’s indoctrination into our family added more steps to my routine in the quiet, early morning hours, but I didn’t mind. As is obvious, no one wants to be up at 4:30 AM in the morning, much less converse with or engage with me on any level approaching civility. I like the alone time personally, but in the end, it is lonely and having this little pup with me has brightened my mornings without disturbing my need to be productive.
For her part Luna has accepted the routine as her own as well. She knows she will go outside the moment we get downstairs. She eats her breakfast while I eat mine, and once she’s done she curls up in my writing chair to warm it up for me (after she spends a few minutes beating the hapless blanket into an acceptable position). When I’m ready to join her, we usually jockey for position in the chair, but since I weigh much more than she does, I win that battle until she wedges herself against my leg and takes the first of her many naps for the day (I’m definitely coming back as a pampered pooch in my next life).
So now I have a writing buddy. I’m positive this makes me a better writer, not because she’s particularly good at edits, word suggestions, or plot analysis, but because she keeps me company and makes my writing environment all the more enjoyable. Getting in the mood to write requires a certain level of relaxation (try writing effectively when you’re tense, stressed, or uncomfortable), and there’s nothing more relaxing for a dog lover than having your dog by your side. Sometimes, when I’m struggling to figure out what to write next, I stop and pet the soft fur on her back. Like magic, I find my momentum again. That’s what writing buddies do. They help you get past the mental blocks. That and coffee.