Walking Your Way to a Finished Novel

I’ve already blogged about the effects of health and fitness on writing here. But today, I have some additional thoughts to share.

I adopted a dog from the animal shelter last week. His name is Elliot, after T.S. Elliot. So far, he is turning into the world’s most awesome dog.

Fortunately for me and my writing projects, I was fortunate to snag a dog who’s super mellow in the house, but loves to go on long walks. And he’s great on the leash! He plods along at an even pace, doesn’t bark or lunge at other dogs, and basically allows me space to zone.

The con to all this awesomeness is that it’s still hot in southern California, I often walk Elliot at night. My preferred writing time is in the late afternoon or early evening. Which is fine, because I can just throw down all the ideas I just brainstormed on the walk, for the next time I want to write.

I’m not a biologist, so I can’t tell you what’s so awesome about exercising and brainstorming. Lots of writers and creative people I know use exercise as a way to help them with their work. Whether it’s jogging, swimming, biking, or walking, something about the combo of exercise is really good for your creativity. (I’m not a biologist, you guys come here for the books and the writing advice remember?)

For me, walking helps remove the fog that surrounds my brain. I can focus on the larger themes of my story and look at it from a more outside perspective. I can see the overarching plot arcs and where I need to up the conflict and where I need to spend more time on the characterization. When I’m writing, I get so focused on the words, the sentences, the grammar, that sometimes I forget where I’m going. Exercising helps me hold both in my head at once, so I can look at things from both the micro and macro level.

Exercise is also really effective against writer’s block. Just keep moving until you get unstuck. And even if you don’t, you just got a really great workout.

You’re welcome.

9 thoughts on “Walking Your Way to a Finished Novel

  1. coreymp says:

    I love dogs. I have 2 corgis. Your dog is adorable and I love his name! I agree that exercise helps in writing. I can’t remember who said that the best ideas happen while walking.

  2. Michelle Proulx says:

    I recently discovered the joys of walking in the park. At first I just did it to stretch my legs, but then I noticed that I spent about 90% of the walk thinking about story ideas. When I added my ipod to the mix, the ideas practically bombarded me. So I’m 100% an advocate of creative exercising (that’s not what it’s called, is it?) 🙂

  3. Renee says:

    Congrats on the new pup! What a cutie. And I love that you chose an author for his namesake. As soon as it’s feasible in my life, I’m definitely adopting a dog. My childhood dog passed away at the beginning of the summer (after a very long and very happy life!), but I’m ready to bring a new dog into the family.

    And I definitely agree on the writing/exercise combo. Long walks are the best for trying to sort out issues in my writing. I only wish I could have a typed transcript of my thoughts so that afterward, I’d have all those gems ready to go for my next writing session!

    • Shannon says:

      Thank you! He’s my first so you could say I’ve been waiting for this my whole life! I really want to get a handheld recorder for those transcription purposes 🙂

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