One of the number one requirements of a commercial fiction career is that you must reliably produce good material, year in and year out. Reliable and good are not always an easy combination. To do it, a writer has to take care of her body, her mind, and her spirit.
Over the years, I’ve found many ways to do that, but the mainstay is walking. I walk every morning, and take long walks on weekends and evenings; I walk around the cities I visit when I travel. I’ve done a marathon and a half over two days (Avon walk) and twice now have walked over a hundred miles in the course of a week. Walking is my passion (which you might have guessed from the title of my blog, A Writer Afoot).
There is a long history of writers and walkers—Wordsworth is said to have walked 175,000 miles in his lifetime and Thoreau was given to 20 mile rambles through the forests and over the hills. Walking is done at human speed. It gives us time to see, to think, to ponder and wonder. It gently releases endorphins and keeps the joints fluid. Brenda Ueland wrote:
If you would continue to be alone for a long time, amblingly swinging your legs for many miles and living in the present, then you will be rewarded: thoughts, good ideas, plots for novels, longings, decisions, revelations will come to you
In other words: walking fills the well.
I spent the winter and spring writing a book that tested me, made me reach harder and higher than I ever have, and by the end of May, when I finished the last of the revisions and finally polished it to the place I wanted it to be, I was bone-dry. The girls in the basement crashed, refusing to give me one more word. [Read more…]