Friday, February 14, 2014

10 Things Writers Have in Common with Woodpeckers

"The woodpecker might have to go." 
Courtesy of christianfunnypictures
Okay, I finally got a walk in this morning before getting blasted with yet another wave of snow (3"-5" predicted again tonight). What freedom I felt. How invigorating was the crisp air. What a refreshing chance to see something besides the four walls of the house. 

Then, lo and behold, I looked up and saw...a woodpecker. And the bright discovery added a bonus to my walk: inspiration. Here was this red-capped, feathered creature out in the cold, too, another survivor of this never-ending winter, and a fragile little guy faithfully doing his thing--pecking away and getting results.

So, as you might have already guessed, I was inspired to look closer at the life of a woodpecker. Not surprisingly, I found some things writers have in common with him.

10 Things Writers Have in Common with Woodpeckers

1. "Woodpeckers can peck up to 20 times per second, or a total of 8,000-12,000 times per day." How many keyboard keys do we peck (tap) in a day?
2. "Many woodpeckers have barbed tongues that help them extract bugs from trees and holes." What tools do we have to extract just the right words out of our heads?
3. "The woodpecker also has a very long tongue, up to four inches long in some species, with a glue-like substance on the tip for catching insects." Do we have the ability to stick with a project?
4. "The woodpecker's strong, pointed beak acts as both a chisel and a crow bar to remove bark and find hiding insects." Do we have a strong nose for the story, a drilling focus, and crowbar tenacity to pull it all out in its best form?
5. "Most woodpeckers have zygodactyl feet, which means they have toes facing the front and toes facing the back to help them grip trees vertically." What helps us grip our... ahem... backsides to our chairs and stay there until the work is done?
6. "They use those toes with their stiff tail feathers to brace on trees as they climb." Do we have as stiff a backbone to see the project through?
7. "Feathers that look like bristles on the nostrils of the woodpecker prevent inhalation of wood particles." Okay, this might be a stretch, but how do we put on blinders to block out the distractions when we are in the 'zone' and the words are flowing?
8. "Woodpeckers have a unique flying pattern: three wing flaps are followed with gliding." Have we found our rhythm? Mixing writing and living (defined as cherishing relationships, maintaining myriad responsibilities, etc etc )...sometimes it seems like one suffers at the hands of the other. Yet we desire to keep things in balance, don't we?
9. And speaking of relationships, "woodpeckers are monogamous (one mate for a lifetime)." You could say 'family' is important to the woodpecker, too!
10.  "Woodpeckers eat primarily insects, along with fruit, acorns and nuts." Well, writers might want to substitute chocolate for insects and acorns, but otherwise fruits and nuts sound good.

I did find one way, however, that woodpeckers are different than writers:
1. "Woodpeckers don't get headaches from pecking. They have reinforced skulls structured to spread the impact force, and their brains are tightly cushioned and protected." Are our skulls as cushioned in the event we bang our heads on our desks in our most frustrated sessions?!

Have you ever considered your affinity with the woodpecker? Any comparisons you can think of that wasn't touched on here? Would you throw the woodpecker off the ark???

"Even the woodpecker owes his success to the fact that he uses his head and keeps pecking away until he finishes the job he starts." --Coleman Cox

Sources for facts on woodpeckers:
Basic Facts About Woodpeckers
Woodpecker Trivia
Woodpecker Facts
Why Woodpeckers Don't Get Concussions


  1. This was so creative, thought-provoking, and fun. We have a resident woodpecker that is often pecking away near my writing window. I hate to make him leave, but I have to shoe him away.

  2. I've never had a woodpecker so near a window, Cathy, but I suspect the pecking noise that close would get old pretty quick! Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend :-)

  3. Ha! And my husband doesn't want the bird to destroy our new siding. I don't mind his noise at all. Like most birds/animals, he's precious and a glory to behold. He doesn't realize he's a villain.

    1. Wonder why your woodpecker is attracted to the siding?? But up close and personal like that you'd really get a good view of him. I'm with you, they are amazing creatures!

  4. I've never thought of my similarity to a woodpecker, but I see it now!

    Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2014

    Twitter: @damyantig

  5. Kenda, I had never though of a writer's affinity with woodpeckers. But, your post has made me change my view. Can I call us writers wordpeckers?

  6. Gotta say, I've never compared myself to a woodpecker. (This is a little like those quizzes where they ask you what kind of animal you would like to be. I've always picked some kind of bird.) My favorite part of your creative post was number 8, where you talk about rhythm. Three flaps and a glide... I like that. Maybe that translates into three hours of work and a coffee break?

  7. Damyanti, thanks for stopping by :-) And thanks for the reminder of the A to Z Challenge.I've known about it, but never participated. It does seem like a great opportunity to meet more bloggers, though.

    Rachna, you made me laugh! What a wonderful play on words. We writers are "wordpeckers," aren't we? Love it. Thanks so much for a great pun.

    Peggy, I think you've identified our writer's theme for the year. "Three flaps and a glide." Can't you see it now, coffee mugs, t-shirts, bookmarks?? Shall we market it? Thanks, friend!

    Sandra, so glad to "meet" you--thanks for stopping by and for the follow. Have a great week :-)

  8. Yeah, Kenda, let's do coffee mugs - perfect for when we need to "glide" out for a refill. :-)

  9. That's a great list, Kendra. :-) My dog walks bring daily inspiration to my writing.

  10. This is super cute (and I always wondered how woodpeckers could do that w/o getting headaches :))!

  11. Back to you, Peggy--sounds like we have a plan :-)

    And thanks, Barbara and Jess, glad you enjoyed. Great to hear from you both...

  12. This was too funny, clever, and oh, how true! I'm going to tell everyone I'm a woodpecker!

  13. Catherine, how about telling them you're a wordpecking woodpecker?! (I love Rachna's pun above :-) Thanks for stopping by...