For those who have followed my blog you’ll see from some of the photos (e.g. the front page) that I occasionally go walking. I’m not fanatical, always out there, striding across the hills, but I do enjoy it when I can. This usually means a trip or two away for a few days, the latest in the Lake District, as well as the odd day in the Surrey Hills. Despite the title of this blog I do it mainly for the simple pleasure of placing one foot in front of the other and the scenery that swings in to view around every corner.
However, there is a bonus for the writer in me. In a car a blurred world whisks by and I’m usually driving, so concentrating on the road. I also cycle, which allows for a bit more leisurely view of the world, but still the act of cycling requires some concentration on the road etc. This is where walking has the advantage for the writer. The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other (as mentioned above) is automatic, with the possible exception of making sure I don’t trip up or walk over the edge. But even then my brain seems to take care of most of that with little conscious effort leaving the rest of it free to roam, to think. Also, the walking with its simple rhythm becomes almost meditative.
As with most writers my stories or whatever I’m working on are never far from my mind, so when walking and my brain is allowed to wander it naturally turns to my writing. I’m relaxed and there’s no pressure, there’s no nagging thoughts that I should be doing something else. It’s free to mull over alternative plots, new ideas, story lines, that phrase I’ve been searching for.
Then there’s the other advantage of that form of locomotion – you actually get the time to look at the world you’re passing through, the world around you. You can see the detail, the individual leaves on the trees, the flowers. You can take in the whole view, not just catch a brief snapshot as you whizz by. And you don’t have to go far to find some great views (although if you can go somewhere like the Lake District it is worth it). As a writer I find myself trying to describe the things I see, trying out phrases that then might be incorporated into my work at some later date. And even if they aren’t what great practice, a bit like life drawing for an artist. You have time to test words and phrases against what’s in front of you, to see if they work, do they capture the scene, can they be improved. Add to that as a walker you have the sounds, the bird song, the breeze in the leaves, your boots on the path. Then the scents that fill the air. If you only experience the world from a metal box or through the television, how are you going to know what those are really like? How can you describe them to other people in a way that’s meaningful?
So go on, put on a pair of boots or trainers and get out there. Experience the world at walking pace. Be inspired.
Your views always welcome.