Writers are Birds

Writers are birds. That’s what I decided today while watching the flurry at the bird feeders outside my office window.

Each type of bird has a very different way of taking seed from the feeders. Clearly, for birds, there’s not just one way to eat. It’s the same for writers. We all approach the writing process in a way that works best for us.IMG_3392

The juncos approach the process in groups, and they tend to prefer feeding on solid ground over resting precariously on perches. They chatter to each other as they eat, perhaps asking advice or offering opinions.

The titmice are the most busy and productive. They fly in, eat as long as they wish, and fly out. They’re goal oriented. They’re not easily distracted. They’re all business.

The chickadees seem to want anonymity. They try to fly in unnoticed, and before they snatch a seed, they make sure no one else is watching. If something distracts them, they might leave before they’ve eaten. When they do sneak a morsel, they take it to a quieter, less exposed spot to eat.

Instead of gripping onto perches, the nuthatches get a foothold on the edge of a feeder and hang upside-down. They eat from a completely different point of view.

I feel a little bad for the woodpeckers. They thrust themselves headlong into their task, literally banging their heads against a wall for one seed. Then they do it over again. Seems like a lot of energy for little reward.

The flicker is a big bully. He’s the diva of the group, swooping in, announcing his arrival, and shooing off anyone who doesn’t clear a spot for him and his big ego.

And sometimes the squirrel comes. He is not welcome. We don’t like the squirrel. He brings negativity. He gets in the way of the process.

As a writer, I’m like some of these birds more than others. But what I have in common with all of them is that I have an important task to accomplish, too. I feed myself through writing. Some days I feel confident, sometimes I need to be alone, and at least once a week I need to chatter in the company of other writers.

But I never need the squirrel.


[photo credit: Charlie Rau]

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  1. A little follow up…if anyone is interested in bird watching, here’s a great guide to get you started!

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