How walking helps my writing
Not walking and writing simultaneously you understand; I can barely walk and talk at the same time without falling over. But after many years, I am finally realising that movement and brain function are connected. Yes, I understood it on a science based ‘exercise-is-good-the-body-and-mind-are-one’ basis. But, as anyone who knows me knows, I’ve never been the most physically active of people. Since I’ve been writing, I have come to see how valuable my twice daily dog walks are to my work. Have you ever had a similar realisation? Where something you have previously understood at an intellectual level suddenly becomes a real thing?
Being outside and moving seems to shake up my brain and, like a snow globe, my thoughts resettle in a slightly different position. Everything gets a bit of a reshuffle and this is great when I sit back down to focus on your piece of writing. It gives me mulling time; time to think of just the right word or turn of phrase. Often it’s not deliberate, thoughts just appear.
I’ve decided to share some of these thoughts as a bit of a celebration of this revelation.
I particularly enjoy my autumn walks. Unlike most of the population, I feel a sense of relief when the first cold mornings appear. No more oppressive, sleep-inducing summer heat, just crisp brightness; with the occasional windy, gloomy or wet days thrown in for some variety.
Just an unnecessary shout out to autumn-winter clothes and accessories before I go any further – I love them all: hats, scarves, thick tights with short skirts, boots, gloves, big coats. All skin is covered and you can have little pops of colour everywhere!
I am very lucky to live somewhere there is a lovely, dog-friendly open spaces on my doorstep. Sometimes interacting with the weather brings me out of my head and makes me notice the natural world around me. I remember noticing things as a child, but kind of lost the knack as an adult.
Sometimes the things I see send me into the world of story. Like this little mushroom path that sprang up, seemingly, overnight. In a story it would lead to the entrance of a magical kingdom; or be a street of tiny pixies’ homes; or stools for some very important fairy committee members.
A white rabbit
The week after the mushroom pathway, we (me and the dog) came across a very large, pure white rabbit. Had my lovely companion not immediately gone into hyper-alert, ‘shall I catch that for you?’ mode, I would have wondered if I’d imagined it! It waited by the gate for a few seconds and then bounded off along the road. Had I been on my own I would have been tempted to follow it, in the hopes of having my own adventure down the rabbit hole.
Off on a tangent…
This reminded me of the time I thought I was hallucinating a chicken on Kensington High Street. While walking to work very early one morning, I glanced sideways and saw a very purposeful chicken strutting along beside me. It was so incongruous that I broke all kinds of London social protocol and asked a random man for confirmation. I thought the sleep deprivation had finally done its worst.
He looked surprised, but that might have been because I spoke to him, and confirmed that there was definitely a chicken walking down Kensington High Street at 6.45 that particular Thursday morning. He could see it too. After a sigh of relief, I felt like I should do something about it…but what? It seemed to be very clear about where it was going and that any interference would be quite unwelcome. In retrospect, it could have been faking such an air of authority in order to blend in with the other human commuters!
Back to my autumn walk discoveries. Squirrels feature heavily in walks with my dog. She is a lurcher and the sworn enemy of all squirrels. She seems to have taken it upon herself to rid us of their very presence; in the very serious, focused style of Brienne of Tarth. So I am quite aware of them scooting around finding, burying and eating nuts.
I’d never actually seen a squirrel eat a horse chestnut until a couple of weeks ago. There it sat, diligently peeling off the thick skin with its claws and nibbling away at its shiny insides.
The next day I noticed a massive pile of conker peelings at the bottom of a particular tree. I wondered if this was the squirrel equivalent of my post boxset binge, boob-shelf of snack crumbs (hugely attractive!). They’d clearly had a big feast the previous night…or one squirrel just ate everything they’d found instead of burying their haul. Do they suffer from eater’s remorse the next day, like a conker hangover, or regret it after the frosts arrive?
One of my favourite things is to be surrounded by flying swifts. I find their constant darting and weaving inexplicably calming. They are so perfectly formed for flight, fly so close and just don’t ever seem to stop. Most other flying or fluttering things, like stupid daddy-long-legs, agitate me beyond belief. But these beautiful little things seem to spread cheer as they go.
I am aware that this is quite a random post, full of little snapshots. I’m obviously not here to inform you about the importance of physical health to mental well-being and good brain function – I’m sure you already know all about that. I guess I’m just sharing the small personal discovery that the act of walking my dog helps me think more clearly and positively impacts my writing.
These gentle observational experiences bolster my creativity by interlinking with all the fiction that resides in some cupboard in my brain. Any kind of thinking exercise can only be good for my clients as it impacts positively on the writing I do for you. Although I promise not to go off on any tangents, or make random associations, in your writing unless you specifically request them in your initial brief!
I look forward to my snowy winter walks…