Writing Redneck

Beating the Brains out of Writer’s Block


As a writer, I spend a lot of time trying to “get my head right” in an effort to stump writer’s block. For me, writer’s block is just a time when there’s so much going on in the real world and the story world that I’m on the verge of panicking. I have discovered one sure way to beat it and make myself sit down to a pad and paper or computer. Duh! Splitting firewood.

Ok, really it isn’t that rare of a past time, but how many girls in their early twenties use it as a way to let off steam and get their writing world in order? (Really though, its awesome.) Somehow the work serves to release whatever pent up frustrations I tend to harbor, leaving my mind blank enough to remember how to form a story.

It all starts with a big, obnoxious pile of wood.


First of all, you must understand the difference between a pile and a stack. A pile of wood sits in your yard and collects bugs, mold, and weeds. A stack is lined up perfectly straight with coinciding lengths put side-by-side and on top of one another to form an orderly block divided up into sections called Cords. 4X4X8 feet equals a full cord.

But first the wood has to be of uniform size and as square as it is possible to make it. This is achieved by setting one 16 inch tall round on top of another and swinging an ax at it. These axes vary in weight and gauge. Preferable for full rounds is an 8 pound splitting maul. But smaller pieces are equally served by a 4 pound double-bitted ax–older than I am and retrieved from my grandfather’s shop.

At this point, frustration is starting to block out any sound and my first swing tends to go awry. Askew or not, it usually results in a deep bite, and an unsatisfactory chunk taken out of the side of the intended round. The next swing is still fueled by frustration, but is much more accurate. But the result is still unsatisfactory because it took more than one swing.

The second round is a little more calculated. I have begun to focus on my work and troubles are beginning to wash away. The second round pops apart with a satisfying snap and a smile creeps over my face. I have achieved ultimate destruction with no consequences, resulting in a pleasant aroma and a practical end.

Well . . . There might be a few consequences. After about round 5 sweat has begun to build on my face and neck. But I refuse to give up until I am all the way sweaty because then I know all the distractions of the real world have officially bidden me goodbye and I may return to my book.

But there is a problem.

I can’t go back in the house and get the real work done until all the wood is stacked neatly in the shed.


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