Every couple of days, my white cat Emily sounds her tell-tale muffled mouth meow, the call that announces her success as a hunter. Some days, I find a mouse or a squealing vole (let me tell you how horrible that was). She’s an expert at capturing frogs and bringing them to my room as unharmed presents (nothing like a frog on your Bible as you turn in for the night). Once she brought in a good sized baby woodpecker who eventually flew off successfully after my cousin “escorted” him to the door.

Sometimes, though, Emily brings in leaves. Dried, fallen, curling leaves. She’s equally proud of those. (I prefer them, for obvious reasons.)

The thing is that Emily needs to hunt every day to keep her stalking skills sharp, so when a vole or bird or skink doesn’t present itself, she turns to what she can find – leaves.*

As a writer, I can learn from this practice. I need to write every day – whether a brilliant essay topic or book chapter presents itself or not. If need be, I need to pin down a leaf and just write about what I’m seeing or rant about the frustration of writing. I need to stalk the words, every day, to keep my skills sharp.

If I don’t, when that big woodpecker comes by, his brilliant redhead blazing to be caught, I’ll just watch him go by – my stalking skills out of practice and dull. My great capture beyond my reach among the leaves.

What are you doing to keep your writing skills sharp? Do you write every day? Do you find that necessary for your practice? Why or why not?

*Please note that I don’t encourage my cats to hunt. It grieves me every time they bring an animal into the house.