One Writer’s Journey

September 9, 2014

Writer’s Block: Cure it by taking a walk

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:30 am
Tags: , ,

walkWhenever I’m working on something and it just won’t come together, I find myself itching to take a walk.  I’ve had experienced writers tell me that NO, I should stay at my desk.  This is just me trying to escape a bump in my writing path.  But I’ve never entirely bought into this.  When I’m really, truly stuck and I take a walk, I often come up with a solution to my writing problem.

During crisp fall weather or whenver there’s new snow, I yearn to walk outside.  It never fails.  When I’m about as far from the house as a plan to go — breakthrough!  In the heat of summer, I opt for the treadmill.  It doesn’t seem to work as well as walking outside, but I’ve always been convinced that it helps.

And apparently there’s science to back these ideas up, according to Ferris Jabr, Why Walking Helps Us Think.

Experiments show that after taking a walk, people test better both in terms of memory and attention, and that seems reasonable.  When you walk, your heart pumps more blood and oxygen not only to your muscles but also to your brain.  Feed your brain and it’s likely to work better.

Other studies show that we can change the pace of our thoughts by walking faster or slowing down.  Just can’t get a flow going?  A brisk walk will jar those notions loose!

Most of us are fairly good at walking, so our minds wander.  Yeah, imagine that.  A writer’s mind wandering.  Still other studies connect just this type of mental state with making mental breakthroughs.  One minute, I’m noodling over the grocery list.  The next, I know exactly what scene should come first.

Not surprisingly, where you walk also matters.  A natural setting seems to be better than a busy urban setting.  While the treadmill isn’t “urban,” it isn’t quiet or outdoors.

The next time that you’re stuck, maybe forcing yourself to stay at your desk isn’t the best answer.  It might be better to take a walk and get both your blood and your ideas flowing.

–SueBE

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