A Woodpecker Lives in my Head And Controls My Writing

Created by Anu Anniah

Someone asked me how my ideas find their way into my writing. That’s when Woodo piped up and took full credit. He is right, though. He is my muse, my reminder, my chaser, and the one who decides what I write and when I write — for the most part.

Sometimes he goes away on some obscure migratory trip, and my writing shrivels up like a raisin but without any of the sweet taste. I miss him a lot then.

Calling Woodo my muse is probably wrong. He doesn’t inspire me per se, he doesn’t help me come up with ideas. But he stores all my ideas somewhere like chipmunks storing acorns. One day he wakes up and decides I need to work on a particular idea. That’s it. That day he takes it upon himself to knock incessantly at my head rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat.

Woodo works in different ways on different days. He is a moody guy.

Gentle nudge day

On some days, Woodo picks up a vague or half-formed idea from his storehouse and gives me gentle and loving pecks on the left or right side of my forehead. I have systematic ways to store my ideas. But Woodo operates in mysterious ways. There is no way to predict which idea will take his fancy on any given day.

I have a pair of regular pigeons that visit our balcony. I’ve named them Pijji and Kamala. Woodo keeps trying to make me write about them. I want to write tales about them too. But the time is not right.

Woodo was after me one day to write about that avian couple. I was busy with other things that day or just not in the mood to write. He gave up after a while. Nice of him.

On ‘gentle nudge’ days, Woodo is the epitome of understanding. He understands after a while and goes away. Such a relief to not have him pecking at me.

Persistent nudging day

I recently had my wisdom tooth removed after an epic 90-minute battle. I was in pain. But Woodo had a mind of his own. He simply would not let up. He kept pecking and pecking and asking me to write about the whole traumatic episode of losing my wisdom.

Woodo’s pecking made me feel like I would lose my mind along with my wisdom. It was awful. There was no stopping his rat-a-tat-a-tat.

Finally, I had to sit down and write the article. I stopped mid-way because I needed to sleep to forget the pain. But as soon as I woke up, he was back. The guy is relentless on ‘persistent nudging day.’

Well, yes! I did get that article written and published. That made me happy and I am glad Woodo persisted. I do love Woodo. He helps me move ahead in my writing career.

Migration days

Just my luck to be saddled with a migratory woodpecker. Of all the species of woodpeckers available, my Woodo had to be one that migrates. He does not follow set patterns either. There is zero predictability.

Woodo doesn’t wait for winter or any such weather-based date. He just ups and disappears for days on end. AWOL. No bye-bye. No out-of-office message. No note saying when he’ll be back. Nothing.

Where does that leave me? Without his rat-a-tat-a-tat, I have nothing to start my writing. I don’t know which idea to pick and I have no motivation to write.

And most importantly, I have no clue when I’ll be back to my writing. Why? Because Woodo doesn’t believe in planning and timelines and systematic writing every day. What am I supposed to do with this woodpecker? Sheesh!

I blame such days on writer’s block and move on to other things. I can blame Woodo, but he cares two hoots. So I just pick up tasks that might otherwise not get done — updating my website, cleaning dark corners in the house, getting my financials in order, and so on.

There you have it. This is how my writing works unless I’ve taken on paid work. That’s different. For such assignments, I have a pet tiger.

Who lives in your head?

A lot of writing advice points towards writing every day. To be honest, I think that makes sense. It is critical to develop our writing muscle.

But — and this is a big but for me — writing is a huge world. Writing for a project I have taken on is very different from inspired writing that I do because an idea strikes me.

Woodo comes along for ‘my’ writing. He doesn’t care about what I do for my ‘potatoes on the table’ projects. Those projects already have deadlines and Woodo can’t be bothered to chase me for them.

But for real writing that I am passionate about, I need Woodo. I beg for Woodo to peck and prod me into my writing flow — for my humor stories, my books, or my poetry. I manifest my inner Woodo, in a way.

I think I created Woodo as a means to keep me focused on my core writing. Some days, Woodo bugs me so much that I have to drop everything else I am doing and sit down to write.

  • How do you draw inspiration to accomplish writing that you are passionate about?
  • Are you consistent?
  • What’s your secret, your muse?

Add comments or share links to articles that describe your working style in the comments section.

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