Lessons Learned from a Gray-Striped Cat

Kate Stelmaszek

Sometimes, you learn the most important writing lessons in places you’d least expect.

I've learned some of those important lessons from a little, gray-striped cat. She’s shared some surprising insights with me, and I’d like to pass her lessons on to you.

Let me explain …

Two years ago, my husband and I adopted a kitten we named Arya.

The name originated from Arya Stark, a character in the book and TV series Game of Thrones. Both cat and character share a sassy, playful personality. And a stubborn independence, particularly when it comes to following rules.

Kitty Arya’s unique personality makes her a great writing teacher.

What does a cat know about writing?

Writers and cats share a long and affectionate history. Great authors like Ernest Hemingway … Mark Twain … Joyce Carol Oates … Ray Bradbury … and Neil Gaiman, to name just a few, loved cats.

And why not? Cats live creative lives.

Cat Lesson #1: The Secret of Freedom

The first lesson to learn from a cat is simple. A cat’s life is really the ideal writer’s life. It’s filled with freedom to do what they want, when they want.

Cats live independently … unscheduled … on their own terms. Cats don’t have bosses or hassle-filled commutes. Their waking and sleeping don't depend on clocks.

Isn’t that the kind of life we want? Why we’re studying writing? Following a cat’s example, we know what we want to create … our perfect writer’s life.

Cat Lesson #2: The Secret of Balance

Why take advice from a cat?

Because you’re busy — too busy. Chances are, you live like a car nearing empty, speeding through life at 80 mph, for 12 hours a day. Over-caffeinated … under-nourished … exhausted.

But you’re not a car. You're human and should be living more like a cat.

Cats don’t have jobs, but their days are full. They hunt, eat, bathe, potty, nap, play, and cuddle. And they do it all in a balanced way.

Watch a cat wash herself. She doesn’t rush her bathing like you rush through a shower, your mind on the next item on the to-do list.

She washes slowly. She enjoys the bath … relaxes. Her fur — and her mind — come out soft, neat, and clean. Cats take the time they need to do it right.

It’s an important lesson. I call it “The Secret of Balance.” And it’s this: Find the balance between taking care of work, others, and yourself.

How to start balancing your time today

I want you to mark this down on today’s to-do list:

“I will find the time to take care of myself. I will make time for eating well, sleeping eight hours, enjoying recreation, and doing everything else necessary for my health. I'll limit or eliminate unnecessary tasks in order to do this.”

This is how you put into practice Cat Lesson #2: The Secret of Balance … an essential step on the path to a successful writer’s life. I hope you’ll start practicing it right away.

But before we close, I have one final question to ask … What would a more balanced writer’s life do for you? Please share your thoughts with us by commenting below.

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Published: May 27, 2016

18 Responses to “Lessons Learned from a Gray-Striped Cat”

  1. Great article! I have SEVEN cats and now I see I have alot to learn from them!

    Thomas Arillotta

  2. Hi Will, Kate. Thank you for reminding me about why I'm battling the books 12-14hrs a day. I'm supposed to be enjoying this!
    I live alone. My wife of 30yrs used to govern my time sharing. But now your cat is the smart one.
    I haven't even started COS yet because I'm trying to finish off the B2B stuff that should allow me to slow down, at least just a little. (LOL) Am I alone in this pushing, pushing, pushing? No complaints though. Writer's Life is coming soon!

    Mike Shepherd

  3. What a great analogy! Plain and simple. We humans do seem to complicate our lives. I'm getting a cat--today.

    Suzanne Hughes

  4. A cat's life is exactly what I'm going for as a writer. Thank you for the perfect analogy!

    Guest (Mary Kay Seales)

  5. Ah yes, the lessons we learn from our cats! We the staff do have responsibilities to them, so we can't completely do as the cat.
    My cat has taught me patience and like you say relaxing. I am down to one highly demanding Siamese. Even with all her tack she has helped me to take some time off for a few laughs with her, she is truly entertaining. I think that is her purpose for me. In front of the computer all the time makes no sense unless you can enjoy life away from it. Nice read.

    Mary Stephenson

  6. When I was around 12 years old I had always a cat at home.I loved to play with cats.Every secret of freedom and balance is part of grater secret we call it "RESONANCE".
    When something starts to move like a cat it shows up its secrets of its hidden nature.
    A cat reflects its natural resonance which is part of nature.
    Everything existing in the nature reflects its particular resonance.
    Resonance itself is part of evolution.
    Combining human and nature or animals is very helpful for writing copy.

    Guest (ali rely)

  7. I love the energy in this article! It's a great lesson, one that I will apply for sure. I spent much too long trying to learn Scrivener, an organizational program for writers, when I should have been like Arja. I ended up with a sore neck as I struggled through the session and nothing to show for the time spent. Unleashing my creativity freely would have been much better! OR, even drinking out of the faucet!!! Thanks for the reminder, Kate!

    Jean Stephanie

  8. Firstly, the balanced copywriter'a life means to me the dream land .
    Where the writer is sir of himself, in republic of his thoughts.
    I try to find where is a comfortable place for practicing the freedom.
    I recognized that there's no better than to be writer.
    Secondly, I really like it ,so that is why i am trying to learn from those have knowledge like AWAI.

    Guest (Magey thow )

  9. I love. love this article.. I need to follow this example of taking care of myself better.. Exercising and relaxing. Too much work.. Awesome article :)


  10. I love your analogy too, Kate. Thanks for this perspective. My partner and I have a cat named Bubba, and are often in awe observing his behaviour. Some say it's aloof or lackadaisical. I think its nothing short of simply "cat character". And I do love watching him clean himself too - always with such meticulous, methodical patience. Cat lovers unite!

    Guest (Lee Nourse)

  11. Nice one Katie. Well, I think it can help me to be able to adjust to other daily life activities and as well keep my writing carrier growing.

    Thanks for the share.

    Guest (George)

  12. Your article is very good. A fine reminder to take time for the important things, so that I can write better and achieve more publications. I have multiple cats, and they do take full time to accomplish their tasks. I'm going to remember your lesson today and hopefully daily. Thanks! Your insight is a blessing!

    Guest (Maria Agullo)

  13. Very well put, Kate, and thank you for the reminders and advice. Poor pace of life is one of the most troubling aspects of our modern culture. Animals (and, indeed, all nature) helps remind us of better ways to live.

    Guest (Tim )

  14. How 'bout a cat-balanced life this summer in the political arena, Kate?

    BERNS love to invoke light's double-slit experiment to bend their BERN. But become unreasonably flippant when Clinton kittens more scientifically render BERN the Schrodinger box in which Trump & Clinton fates are somehow equitably split[?].


    Guest (Chris Morris)

  15. Hi Will & Kate!I appreciated your article on the merits of cat philosophy! I have 18 cats & they are always teaching me patience & the art of living life at a slower pace. They do this by demanding their fair share of my attention. Time spent with my cats is time well spent & full of rewards. They appreciate the attention & give back unconditional love & keep me entertained with their antics! They are better than antidepressant medication & are great anxiety relievers too!

    Kat B

  16. Words cannot express the volume this article speaks! I own a cat and she is as independent and self confident in who she is. That is the type of writer I want to be. Although I am unable to pay the fees to join AWAi, reading them ear articles is quite inspiring. This article,specifically, is my favorite. I find it amusing,entertaining, and inspiring. Thank you for sharing. I think we all could lean from the naturalness of the way things are meant to be.

    Guest (Angela)

  17. Will, Thanks for sharing Kate's great article.

    While I'm allergic to cats and don't have the chance to observe them myself, I can definitely appreciate the lesson.

    Earlier this month, I slaved away over my Board recertification and a corresponding topic arose - Matisse, who developed severe Rheumatoid Arthritis, used many cats to warm his hands so he could paint. Authenticates actually look for cat hair to prove the paintings are his, not forgeries.

    It's remarkable how many ways we gain value from cats (pets / children with fur) in our lives.

    Best, Gail

    Guest (Great Masters use of cats)

  18. Blackie is my cat / Strange and so wonderful / Whose only fault is that / She meows plentiful.

    Guest (Mark S)

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