In this week’s New Yorker magazine, writer Ferris Jabr notes something I’ve always known but never said or written: Walking helps your writing. And maybe it’s not just true of walking; perhaps other forms or exercise work as well.
This isn’t just Clay Lambert nonsense or piffle dependent upon anecdotal evidence. Jabr points to scientific research that notes subjects think more creatively – even break loose new metaphors for writing projects – during a good walk.
The reasons are several and start with chemical changes in your brain. Exercise increases blood flow and that necessarily makes you more alive. There is evidence that where you walk matters. Perhaps that is because walking somewhere pastoral allows your mind to wander whereas a stroll through the city requires a certain level of concentration on the task at hand. Getting up from behind the desk is a signal to your brain that you are free to think and don’t have to be productive at the moment. Walking is a state of relaxation.
I would be lying if I said I methodically walk as a means to improve creativity in my writing. But I do walk quite a bit, and I know that I’m sometimes almost overwhelmed with creative thoughts, ideas for stories, plans for the future and more when I’m strolling around my neighborhood. I very often get up and take a short walk through Half Moon Bay when I’m feeling stuck at work. Trust me: It is 10 minutes well spent. …
Do you use exercise – walking or something else – as a catalyst for your work? I’d like to hear about it. And if you don’t see a link between walking and writing, try it. Get up today and go for a walk.