Write Like A House Cat

Pedro Hoffmeister
7 min readFeb 2, 2021

Writers: Don’t let anything affect your work.

Originally published in November 2013 by writersdigest.com

Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash

Growing up, my family had a house cat named Charlotte. She was an unassuming tabby, not incredibly good-looking but not ugly. She wasn’t big or small, fat or thin. She was an average cat. She had average hair, average coloring. But we loved her, and she lived to be ten years old.

Eventually Charlotte got an abscess and died, but not before she completed a decade of good work. In her lifetime, Charlotte ate hundreds of mice out of our cupboards. We lived in a house that was built in 1918, and the walls teemed with mice all winter long. So most evenings, we’d shut Charlotte inside the cupboards — in the dark with the food and the mice — and out she’d come 30 seconds later with a prize between her paws.

In a way, most successful writers I know remind me of Charlotte.

They might be balding or have an average coat of hair. They might not be incredibly good-looking. Not too large or too small. They certainly won’t exude sex appeal in a bikini, and they might even have a hidden abscess that gives off an unpleasant odor, but they get their work done. They write every day. They write every morning or evening. They’re working on something all the time. And they don’t care if they’re shut in, if they’re trapped in the complete and utter dark, because no matter what, they’re coming out of that cupboard with a mouse in their paws.

House Cat Advice #1: Do Work –

According to a University of Georgia study, house cats in the United States kill roughly 4 billion animals per year. They kill voles, mice, moles, snakes, bats, squirrels, rats, flies, moths, birds, butterflies, lizards, newts, and frogs. Once the average cat goes outside, it starts to hunt. If it sees something it might be able to catch, it goes after it until it either finishes the job or has no chance of being successful. In the latter case, if the prey leaves, the cat will wait for it to come back, still hunting what is no longer there, still working, still hoping, and ready if it returns. House cats do not give up. They pursue and they pursue and they pursue.

Pedro Hoffmeister

Author with Random House. TBI survivor who struggles. Poet. Climber. Former Writer-In-Residence of Joshua Tree National Park. Podcast: “Boring Is A Swear Word”