Do You Have a Writing Spirit Animal?

If you’ve spent ten seconds on any social media feed, then you’ve seen the links to the endless chain of quizzes and personality inventories.  You know the ones I’m talking about; What Disney Villain Are You? What Rock Are You Most Like? What Civil War Battle Best Resembled Your Last Family Outing?

preparing for family gathering

preparing for family gathering

One that catches my eye, is the quiz that identifies your spirit animal.  The idea of a spirit animal dates back to some of the earliest recorded history.

image courtesy of dreams

image courtesy of dreams

In no way do I mean to insult those who include animal spirits in their religious beliefs.  I think these folks might have something going on, because there is something really powerful in connecting with nature.  Animals have a way of getting past the human force field of B.S. and don’t judge us for all of our faults.  They take us for what we are – imperfect creatures in an imperfect world.

There are people who use a spirit guide, in the form of an animal, to unclutter the mind and direct their day to day decisions.  That’s what I want while I write, but my writing spirit animal is an elusive little creature.

According to spirit animal guides, you cannot choose your spirit animal, the animal chooses you.  So, why is it I feel like the geeky kid in gym class?  I’ve had my hand up and no animal has chosen me.

from Freaks and Geeks

from Freaks and Geeks

Maybe I’m trying too hard.  Maybe I don’t have a writing sprit animal.  Maybe Toronto Major Rob Ford is destined to be my spirit guide.  Oh, Sweet Jesus, no!


Relax and hover over the keyboard.  Meditate.  Mediate with alcohol (in spite of warnings from Mayor Ford).  An image forms in the shadows and mist between the keys.  The words appear on the screen in an aggravating slow crawl, molasses in winter slow.  My writing spirit animal is a sloth.

My Spirit Animal or an image courtesy of flickr creative commons by martha de jong-lantick

My Spirit Animal, or an image courtesy of flickr creative commons by martha de jong-lantick

Why does it have to be a sloth?  Why can’t I have a cool, majestic wild beast, like a jaguar, a lion, or cheetah?  Why?  I’ll tell you why.  ‘Cause that ain’t me.  After  the initial shock of sloth-labeling, it occurred to me that I’m not a lightning fast writer, clipping out thousands of words a day, leaving a blood trail of story parts in my wake. I’m not a jump-on-it-and-run word predator either.

another spirit animal

another spirit animal

I’m deliberate, reluctant to move past a rough section of words until I like the sound of them.  Not editing as I go, but not throwing words to the wall and hope they stick.  I’ll climb from limb to limb to my little story tree and chew on the leaves until I find what I’m looking for; slow and deliberate.  Sloth-like, you might say.

There are days when my sloth spirit animal shape shifts into a hawk, diving and swooping down on the keyboard, pecking the keys in a frenzy.  A little mouse of a plot twist gobbled up and splattered on the page.  That pace is short-lived and the mist forms around the hawk and my spirit animal morphs back into the slow, but sure paced sloth.

Maybe Napoleon Dynamite was right about his hybrid creatures.


I can live with a Sloth-Hawk spirit animal.  Fast and frenzied when necessary, coupled with a slower, deliberate determination.

What’s your writing spirit animal?



  1. I have more of a writing planet. Mercury. Most of the time I look like I’m moving forward. Then every so often, it seems like I’m moving backward. Why? Because it’s churn out the words, then back it up and make sure those words are good.

    1. I can totally identify with the back and forth. The old Doctor Dolittle movie had an animal that captures that spirit – the Push-Me-Pull-You. That was probably way before your time.

      1. Oh yes, that movie came out far before my time. I am a mere 29 yrs old. Though I may have to bump that up because people are starting to laugh at me being that number. 😀 Speaking of laughing, meth addicted Kodiak bear has replaced my usual go to phrase of coked out Chihuahua. Too funny!

      2. Glad I could help expand your arsenal of drug crazed mammals.

  2. wefalllaughing · · Reply

    I would have to say bear. I am grumpy when pestered and my creativity can hibernate for months. 🙂

    1. I can become very bearish when the coffee runs out. Usually, on the Bear Scale, of 1 being Winnie the Poo and 10 being a Meth addicted Kodiak Bear, I tend to hover around a 4. The 4 would be Yogi, snatching up picnic baskets.

  3. Your spirit animal analogy reminds me of what Stephen King said about Muses in his book “On Writing.” He said that you can’t wait for your Muse to come to you. Your Muse will come when he is damn good and ready. And if you’re not there when he arrives, he’ll leave and you’ll miss the chance. So the only way to do it is to sit down and write every day, so that when your Muse arrives, you’re there waiting for him.

    Sounds like sitting there with the sloth, waiting for those days you get the hawk.

    1. From your lips to Stephen King’s ears. I’ve noticed when I really need the Muse, it’s there. It’s like it knows when I’ve waited long enough, enough to be receptive and pliable for what lies ahead. I can be a sloth – no stress, climb around in your story tree and have fun with the process. When I’m not having fun with a story, that’s when the spirit animal disappears in a flash. And sloth’s don’t do flash.

  4. Turtle. Yup. Slow and steady wins the race.

    1. I can definitely identify with your turtle spirit.

  5. stephanie710 · · Reply

    Great post, as always. I am secretly (well, not anymore) addicted to those silly quizzes. If I had to pick my writing spirit animal I’d have to say, monkey. My mind swings from branch to branch, often without rhyme or reason, and where I land determines what I write. The Buddhists actually do address the mind monkey and attempt to teach practitioners how to tame the wild mind. Hasn’t worked for me, yet. 🙂

    1. It’s funny, that when I’m able to sit and write, the calmness of the Sloth seems to dominate. And, I think that’s a good thing. When I’m not writing, I tend to have the qualities of a crack addicted ferret. A happy middle ground would be nice. Don’t calm your monkey mind too much…it seems to be working just fine.

  6. I’m going to have to go with a Chameleon. Lately she’s been in full camouflage, hiding herself away from that pesky left brain editor. “Come out, come out, wherever you are!”

    1. Marco! Polo! (Says the Chameleon) When it gets warm, the Chameleon will come out and play. Don’t worry. Thanks for stopping by Diane.

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