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daily fieldnotes » Blog's archive » Out for Another Walk
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Out for Another Walk 6

I feel like most people I know wish they took walks more often, and are always glad when they did. And you’re always hearing about the health benefits of taking walks. As a mother, writing at home, I don’t get very much alone time, so lately I’ve been trying to take walks more often. And every time I do, I think, this is the simple key to happiness.

I bring along a little notebook and pen. I pull my sweatshirt tight against the wind, breath in the fresh air, notice primroses, tulips, a house for sale. I pant up flight after flight of stairs that cut up the hill to Twin Peaks, San Francisco’s highest point. Problems with the current thesis chapter hover in my mind like helicopters, somehow louder and clearer as I walk. Today, I realized this is reason alone to get out on walks. I’m currently inspired by how the novelist Dawn Tripp describes why she runs, in her post for Cynthia Newberry Martin’s blog Catching Days:

“I don’t run for time, speed, or distance. I don’t run to stay physically fit. I run to find a clearness of mind.”

And later in the post:

“Every morning I go out and run for this precise reason–to find my way deeper into a character’s self, some key turn of a story, to find that certain edge between intellect and free creative thought, to feel that shift in consciousness that allows me to write well. It’s not a state I can simply sit at a desk and think myself into–though many writers I know can. I have to be outside. I have to move. For me, it is that experience of the world–when I can breathe in the wind, the sun, the heat, the salt smell, the cold, and the light until the floss is stripped, and I am right there, in the pulse and life of a separate and entirely real, fictional world.”

What if I walked every day? What might happen in my writing?

Tell me, does walking (or running, or biking, or other movement) help you write?



  1. Megsie

    03/06/2013 at 3:51 pm

    Well. This assumes that I walk or run, doesn’t it? And, even though it is always on my to do list, it is now part of some fantasy “perfect life” that I have no real intention of going after. However, there was a time that I DID run every day. EVERY DAY. Forty minutes. And it is powerful, it clarifies things and releases other things. I hated the actual running part, but the part when I was done? Oh, I LOVED that. It really should be self-reinforcing, but, alas, I am so far out of shape that it will/would be painful in the beginning. Plus I am old. It will/would take me much longer to get to the point that I could actually run every day. I will still hold it in my fantasy. Maybe in the summer? I think you should try it. YOU might actually follow through!

    • Willow

      03/07/2013 at 9:22 pm

      I wish I could still run, but it bothers my knees too much. It sounds like you really wish it were part of your life again. What if you start very small? A trip around the block one day, then around two blocks the next? I’m with you though, in having these fantasies of exercising more… It feels so hard logistically to get out every day, with childcare and not wanting to go walking after dark alone. But maybe in a few weeks when we have the grandparents here for a week, I could make a go of it?

  2. Jane

    03/07/2013 at 1:40 pm

    This is a beautiful post. If I’m stuck with a project in my studio, I find that getting out of the house and going for a walk makes all the difference. Thanks so much for sharing the lovely quotes, and for reminding me! X Jane

    • Willow

      03/07/2013 at 9:18 pm

      Thanks for visiting and reading, Jane! I am excited to see your blog too, and learn more about your creative work and your life. Wow – London and Cape Town!

  3. cynthia newberry martin

    03/18/2013 at 7:07 pm

    Stunning photos, especially that last one. And thanks for the link to the blog. I was inspired by the same passages that you show here and have been trying to figure out my own best way into the minds of my characters and the fictional world I’m creating.

    • Willow

      03/24/2013 at 9:23 pm

      What do you find works for you, Cynthia? After reading your blog for years, I would guess reading is part of how you work with creating a fictional world. Would love to hear more about what the process is like for you – what you’re finding.


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