How a Missing Dog Helped Mario Vargas Llosa Overcome His Writer's Block and Finish His Masterpiece

Updated: Nov 22

It all ended well, the dog was saved, the novel got finished and Mario Vargas Llosa went on to become one of the most famous writers of our time.



Writer’s block is a real thing and a problem for many people writing any kind of content. Here’s what helped my favorite writer, Mario Vargas Llosa.


Think fast: Mario Vargas Llosa, a writer's block and a dog taken to the pound => What comes to mind?

Not much, right? It all comes down to inspiration.

I strongly believe inspiration strikes reactively - because you were researching, reading, thinking... Not so much a fan of the "just sit back and it will come to you" theory.

Or maybe my process is just different.

Mario Vargas Llosa, my favorite writer ever since I read "Aunt Julia and the scriptwriter", overcame a writer's block and finished "Conversation in a Cathedral", one of his most famous books because of one horrible misfortune: his dog was taken to the pound.

At that time, there was a rabies epidemic in Lima (Peru) and all the dogs that were found in the street were taken to the pound and put down because of lack of funds.

Mario ran to rescue his dog Batuque and, because he was shaken, he decided to stop and have a coffee at the Cathedral Café.

Sitting in the café, a conversation came to his mind. And around it, he finally managed to give structure and chronology to his novel.

Now, his system is clearly different from mine but I’m sticking to my guns. Perhaps for insanely brilliant authors inspiration strikes even in moments of distress but to us mere mortals, you generally have to work for it. Or at least, absorb as much information as possible and always have the intention at the back of your mind. That way, it’s all brewing in the background while you do your mundane stuff.

But that’s just me, thinking out loud.