The late great Muriel Spark, had some excellent advice to aspiring writers. Albeit delivered by one of her characters. By the way, if you haven’t read any Muriel Spark, you should! The advice came from the central character in A Far Cry from Kensington, Agnes Hawkins.
Agnes works as an editor in a publishing house and has a plentiful supply of advice on a variety of subjects. Writing being the principle one. She tells the reader that she passed on “some very good advice, that if you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially some piece of writing or paper-work, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work,…the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle placidly under the desk lamp. The light from a lamp, I explained, gives a cat great satisfaction. The cat will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquillity of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impede your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self command it has lost. You need not watch the cat all the time. Its presence alone is enough. The effect of a cat on your concentration is remarkable, very mysterious.” My laptop seemed to have the same effect on my cat, Misty, as the desk lamp that Agnes spoke of. And, true to Agnes’ word, Misty’s serenity greatly enhanced my concentration. Very mysterious!
There are many more little nuggets to be uncovered in Muriel Spark’s work. If you haven’t unearthed them already, get reading.