Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ode to the Walk

The walking path to Chatsworth in England from my Oct. 08 trip
Noted novelist Barbara Samuel has a great post up at the awesome Writer Unboxed blog (which, if you aren't reading, get thee over there), about the relationship between writing and walking. She just recently returned from a trip to England where she spent the entire month walking around villages and the beautiful countryside, soaking up the sights and sounds and smells of everything around her.

I love to walk. I live next to a duck and geese pond (two of them, actually) and there is a beautiful walking trail sheltered by towering trees and full of scurrying bunnies and squirrels, talkative birds, and the occasional bright red cardinal. (And one cannot forget the simply adorable dogs who greet me from behind their fenced yards).

My favorite time of the day to walk is just when the sun is beginning to make its descent into dusk. Everything is thrown into sharp relief and nature knows it is time to settle in for the night. The ducks curl their feet underneath them and hide their babies beneath their wings while the geese gather in large groups and stop their frantic search for food. The cicadas, however, began their nightly chanting and in some spots, it is so loud as to be overwhelming. But to me, that is the sound of summer.

There have been many times I've struggled with a plot problem and after a walk, the solution comes to me. Other times, I don't think about my novel at all and just enjoy my surroundings, which, when you think about it, also helps me as a writer to connect more fully with my senses. Who doesn't love the sound of baked leaves crunching underfoot, or the sight of a squirrel darting away from an approaching dog, or the smell of lilacs wafting through the air, sweeter than any store-bought perfume?   

Walks can bring us closer to nature, which in turn, can bring us closer to our Creator. And for me, the Creator (God) has given me the gift of writing - which is a creation unto itself - and the walk, the nature, and the writing all intersects in a great circle of creativity, working together to help me be the best writer I can be.

Do you take walks? Where are some of your favorite spots?


  1. I love to walk but it seems the weather in Fl always prevents it--unlike back home in PA. We sometimes do it in the fall when it is cooler. Love the picture!

  2. Anonymous1:40 AM

    Rather interesting place you've got here. Thanks for it. I like such themes and everything connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.

    Julia Kuree

  3. Walking, especially in atmospheric places, can be so inspiring. My favourite walks are along one of the two beaches I have nearby.

  4. There must be something about the very act of walking that gives inspiration to artistic types. I'm amazed how refreshed I feel when I tool around the neighborhood, stopping in a coffeeshop to meet a friend or walking to get Livia from school. Something in me awakens when I'm outdoors on a walk.

  5. I've found that the more I don't want to go for a walk, the more I need it, and the better it makes me feel. I don't usually solve novel problems (for me, showers and waking up at 3 AM are much better for that) but it gets me moving and refreshed.

    My usual walk isn't all that scenic, but it's quiet, and I can let my dog off leash. If I remember to bring my camera, next time, I'll get some pictures and maybe post them on my blog.

  6. Terri - There are several days of the year where I can't take a walk, either, because it's either too darn hot or too darn cold! But I love the days that I can. :-)

    Julia - Thanks for stopping by!

    Debs - I can see how a walk on the beach would be wonderful. :-)

    RT - You're absolutely right. I think it's seeing all of God's creativity that does it for me. :-)

    Christine - Oh, I can relate to this. So many times I didn't want to go for a walk or exercise and once I forced myself to do it, I feel SO much better. Same with writing, I suppose. :-)

  7. Most of my walking lately has been on the gym's track. Ug! Fav spot is passing the marker on lap 26 to let me know I've reached two miles. :)

    Blog is really pretty!

  8. I have to take the dogs out for long walks which, in the winter, can seem like a chore. Once I'm out there though, I love it. I go up into the hills behind the house where it's usually deserted and I can look down on the village below. Gorgeous.
    I find, too, that even if I'm not thinking about writing, plot solutions or little improvements come to me when my mind has 'switched off'.

  9. Very lyrical post, Melissa. I really enjoyed it. And I'm very jealous of Barbara being able to walk around England for a month! What a dream come true!

  10. Ang - I've got a treadmill I put a lot of miles on, too, but I figure I'll get out and walk while the weather will let me!

    Shirley - I really think there's something to just letting our mind work things out while we're doing mundane tasks (like house cleaning) or just relaxing (like walking). I know it works for me, too!

    Jill - I know I did a LOT of walking when I went to England nearly two years ago. I didn't mind at all. :-)


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