Creative Walking

I always enjoy Writers’ Rumpus blog posts, whether they be debut book announcements, interviews with prolific authors and illustrators, or timely tips of the trade. Children’s book writers and illustrators are a hard-working bunch and are essential for the enrichment of today’s kids. This translates to a lot of long hours spent creating.

We’ve all heard we have to stay-in-our-chairs to accomplish our work. We’ve also heard we have to walk 10,000 steps to stay healthy. They say sitting is the new smoking—yikes. Since there are only so many hours in a day, how can we non-runners possibly achieve this on a regular basis?

I’ll be the first to admit there’s no way I can squeeze in 10,000 steps—usually on vacation, or even a single day off, I can—but every day, no way. HOWEVER, I can do less, 5000 or even 7000, if I push it. Also, I think getting up off our chairs frequently could be just as important as how many steps we do. Unfortunately, getting up is not as easy as it sounds, at least for me. Especially if there’s a deadline looming, whether real or self-imposed.
Sometimes, I find if I plan on taking a long walk, it looms over me. I’ll tell myself just one more paragraph or email, or just one more social media comment. But, if I break it up into several short walks—which in the long run is just as healthy—it seems easier to accomplish. And I often come back with new insight on whatever writing problem I may have been trying to tackle.
A 2014 Stanford University study discovered that when we need to stir up our imaginations, walking leads to more creative thinking abilities than can be accomplished while sitting. Quoting the last line of their abstract: “Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”
I think they’re on to something! Some of us have tried setting a timer to get ourselves writing. Maybe we need to do this all day long—thirty minutes in the chair, thirty minutes out, etc. 1000 steps for every completed sketch, or for every 100, 500, or 1000 words. What do you think?

Rather than listening to me babble on about it, let’s see what bygone creative geniuses had to say.

“If I couldn’t walk fast and far, I should just explode and perish.”Charles Dickens

“Finished my thirteenth chapter. I am so full of my work, I can’t stop to eat or sleep, or for anything but a daily run.”Louisa May Alcott

“It’s worth the time to take an hour’s walk before writing. You may write a bit less for the time spent, but you may find that you write better.”Orson Scott Card

“Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and nothing too much.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We walk a good deal, for the woods are impenetrable to the sun, even in the middle of an August day.”Jane Austen

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”J.R.R. Tolkien

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”John Muir

“She seemed to walk in an atmosphere of things about to happen.”Lucy Maud Montgomery

“I would walk along the quais when I had finished work or when I was trying to think something out. It was easier to think if I was walking and doing something or seeing people doing something that they understood.”Ernest Hemingway

“Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; and talking leads almost inevitably to smoking, and then farewell to nature as far as one of our senses is concerned.”C.S. Lewis

“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.“— Henry David Thoreau

“The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy, walk and be healthy.”Charles Dickens

So there we have it. Let’s rise our hunched, crumpled forms and get walking!
Any tips out there on getting your work done and keeping fit at the same time? Anybody write on a standup desk or treadmill? How’s that working for you?


  1. Wonderful post, Marcia. I love the quotes, especially the one by Charles Dickens. I have gotten into the habit of going out for a walk before breakfast. After 4-5 miles I feel wonderfully refreshed and ready to conquer the world. Well, maybe not the world, but at least my next photo project. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A wonderful post. I’m so glad I have my dog. She comes into my office with her big eyes and waggy tail, saying, “Time for a walk mom!” She gets me off my butt and out for a walk two or three times a day.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Everything is going well, thanks. Trips have been cancelled but we live in a great place so it’s not too bad to deal with. Lots of time for writing, reading, baking and walking the dog. Hope all is well with you and yours. xo

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this post, especially John Muir’s quote! I, too, would love to hear from those who use a standup desk. Is it worth finding space for? Sitting (and I’ll add, staring at a computer screen) are definitely not optimal activities for us humans. If nothing else, I try to take at least a brief walk before each and every meal. Also schedule a 4:00 yoga break for every other day.

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  4. How interesting that I should read this post now when I have been procrastinating about going out for my daily constitutional for the past 30 minutes. I am behind on blogging and keep thinking, one more post before I go. I try to walk for thirty minutes a day but it doesn’t always work.

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  5. Wonderful and inspiring post, Marcia! Some of my most productive creative thinking happens while I’m out in my yard and little stand of woods walking my cat (or, more accurately, being walked by my cat). There’s nothing like seeing the world through an animal’s eyes or senses! Now that I’m working at a library, I actually look forward to those days of heavy shelving because I know I’ll get plenty of steps in. Thanks for all of the quotes too! Hope you’re doing well!

    Liked by 1 person

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