Let’s face it, sometimes you just need to get out of your own head and away from the page for a while, so you can return refreshed and ready for action. When you hit one of these lulls, one of the best antidotes can be a brisk or leisurely walk: It clears the cobwebs, gets your body moving and blood pumping, gives you a dose of Vitamin D, and provides your senses with new input. If, like me, you favor this way of jump starting your creative processes, then there’s good news for us both: We’re in excellent literary company! Here’s a peek at a few famous walking writers:
Wordsworth: A contemporary estimates that the poet walked from 176,000 to 180,000 English miles during his lifetime — some of them pacing back and forth in his own garden. Many of these miles were spent composing his gorgeous poetry. Among my favorites: Daffodils: “I wandered lonely as a cloud…”
Proust: At age 23, the young man in search of a vocation, traveled to Venice with the goal of tracing the steps of John Ruskin. Later in Paris, ill health kept him bedridden in a room lined with cork. But he recalled his trip to sunny Italy fondly and gave his fictional protagonist an intense yearning to travel there.
Gertrude Stein: Gertrude and her companion Alice B. Toklas spent many summers in a villa surrounded by mountains. There, Gertrude hiked the hills and wrote letters to Paris about her poodle, Basket, while also dreaming up exotic new ways to express herself.
Charles Dickens: Dickens was a devoted walker and often spent his evenings prowling through seamy sections of London, surreptitiously observing the faces of random passersby, some of whom found their way into his novels. Baudelaire, too, was fond of strolling through his native city of Paris and saw himself as a man of the crowd and a “passionate spectator” of modern life.
So if you’re feeling a bit rusty and jaded, try strolling — it might just jog a great idea or two loose. Just be sure to bring pen and paper — or your handy iPhone! And write on.