Writers Should Walk. A Lot.

Photo by Kriss MacDonald on Unsplash
  1. Walking give you time to think. Your mind begins to settle down after a few minutes on foot, and ideas can form with a little less interference. You can also pursue a train of thought for a longer time, as there are fewer interruptions. The more often you walk, the more quickly you will be able to clear your mind of superficial considerations and everyday worries, to make room for deeper, more creative thoughts. My suggestion: Take a cell phone for emergency use and perhaps capturing a few notes, but walk away from communication connections for a while.
  2. Walking gives you time not to think. If you need to recharge rather than reflect, just attune yourself to the rhythm of walking and put on some headphones. There’s something about having sound delivered directly into your ears/brain that creates a feeling of alternate reality. A thought for music-lovers: create some playlists for different purposes (like energy, remembrance, or some particular emotion) so you can just choose a soundtrack and let it run. A thought for book-listeners: when you want to zone out rather than tune in, avoid suspense by choosing a story you know and love — something that lets you anticipate rewarding moments and enjoy the company of familiar characters.
  3. Walking can be another way to work. I do a lot of research, so I look for audio versions of informational materials, and employ some of my walking time to learn things I need to know. You can also use time on foot to sharpen your writing skills or find inspiration. Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life is just one of many choices available from Audible.com. Another great source of audio that’s informative and entertaining is Malcolm Bragg’s BBC radio show In Our Time. There are many (many)podcasts available on their website for free download, and in each one, various experts gather to chat informally about a topic drawn from history, science, literature, philosophy — a whole range of subjects you may have been meaning to think about but haven’t got round to. Just a few of the most recent IOT conversations: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the planet Venus, novelist Edith Wharton, mathematician Emmy Noether, the Incan empire, Picasso’s Guernica, the philosophy of hope, Frankenstein, kinetic theory, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  4. Walking makes you strong. A friend of mine once overheard the novelist Caroline Gordon complain that writing ruins your body. And it can, if you’re not careful. The physical part of being a writer requires flexibility, strength and stamina — all benefits of walking. But too often we spend hour after hour in some contorted configuration, ending up stiff and cranky. Good ideas: Stretch for a couple of minutes before and after walking, and keep your upper body involved while you walk. (Carry some groceries home, take a book in your backpack, or just poke things with a walking stick . . . )
  5. Walking shows you things. When you’re cruising along at three miles an hour (a comfortable pace for most people), you have more time to look around — and you never know what you might see.

Writer at large, Ph.D. in interdisciplinary humanities. Persistently curious! Creator: “The Constance Project,” and Dreamfish Press. cynthiagiles.com

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