Whenever I am blocked in my writing, I watch squirrels. I see them bouncing from tree to tree or chasing each other. At other times, one squirrel will dig up a nut that another had just buried. Once I witnessed a lone squirrel sneaking up on a curbside vendor to steal a nut-bar from her truck. Before the hapless vendor could react, this crafty squirrel leapt off the countertop and scampered off with its prize.

Squirrels inspire me with their activity. Rarely staying still in one place, they leap from one tree branch, grab another limb, and then jump to the ground. This reminds me of my free writing, when I jump from topic to topic. Working with my squirrel muses, I seldom know where they will take me in my writing or where I will finally end up.

Another thing that squirrels do is to bury nuts and forget them. Some of these nuts grow into oak trees, while other nuts are dug up for food by different squirrels. In several forms, these buried nuts provide food for the squirrels. Like the squirrels, I stash writing topics in a notebook. Sometimes, I add scraps of information to flesh out the topics. At other times, I mull over one topic until it emerges as a full grown essay. Like burying nuts, my habit of stashing topics and bits of information provide me with food for thought.

The inventiveness of squirrels is legendary. They foil the most determined attempts by ardent bird watchers to keep the squirrels from raiding birdfeeders. When I am stuck in my writing, I ask myself, “What if I was a squirrel…” I usually find an off-the-wall answer to my writing issue. In these ways, squirrels guide me in my writing.

Invocation to the Squirrel Muses
Lay out several nuts (acorns or hickory or walnuts, etc.) in your writing space. Then speak out-loud:

Welcome! Fellow Squirrels! to my space
Let’s play, My Squirrel Friends!

Planting ideas, chasing words, jumping from topic to topic, inventing new wonders of
Flicking our tails in constant motion, we “chee” at the world, while we
Build nests out of words,
Create snug homes for
Ideas, phrases, sentences,
High in the trees of thought.

Let’s play, My Squirrel Friends!
Who wants some nuts?
Chase you up the tree of words!