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Walking and Creativity – It’s What I Do

Essays, general essay

I’ve been thinking a lot about the connection between walking and creativity, especially since I’ve been doing a lot of both lately. I need the exercise, that’s kind of a gimme. But several years ago, I noticed that it’s not just my body that wants to be up and around on a regular basis. My brain does, too.

Walking and creativity is important for my process

There are two times when my brain goes into creative hyper-drive. One is when I’m trying to get away from an unpleasant reality, such as my first marriage. I wrote over twenty novels during that time, although closer to the end, I couldn’t write very much.

The other is when I’m getting out and doing my version of urban hiking. Going places is more fun for me, as opposed to walking aimlessly. I also love extended treks going for a couple hours or more, when my body has hit a solid rhythm and my brain is free to wander where it will. I sometimes hit a lovely trail behind my neighborhood, but mostly I set off down city sidewalks to get to some destination. But where doesn’t matter. I just need to go.

Walking into more writing

Back when I was trying to finish The Last Witnesses (book three in the Freddie and Kathy series), I was astounded by how much getting out and walking helped. All of sudden, that one got done, Death of the Zanjero came together, and I was writing novels after years of being dried up. My husband, who knows the circumstances of my first group of novels, laughed and asked me if he had anything to worry about. He didn’t and still doesn’t. It was the walking that triggered the creative output, not him.

COVID sent me retreating into my imaginary world, but that’s also when I went back to walking for exercise because there wasn’t anything else I could do. I cranked out a lot of stories during that time. I’m the only person I know who lost weight and wrote more during the worst of the pandemic.

I’m still walking. In fact, I need to plan an extended hike for tomorrow, while I’m running an errand out of town (I’ll be long back before this posts, though). The hot weather makes it harder, but I am feeling it when I don’t get out. Walking and creativity are both an important part of my process.

4 thoughts on “Walking and Creativity – It’s What I Do”

  1. Totally agree, Anne! I’m up walking at the crack of dawn seven days a week. I work out plot and character details as I gaze at trees and the sky. Then, I can sit for a few hours and write, guilt free, knowing I’ve gotten some important exercise first.

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