Daily Walks Will Help Your Creativity

It takes intentional, teeth-grinding effort for me to get out of the house each day. I have many obstacles to overcome:

  1. I’m an author and editor, which means I work at home so technically I could work in my PJs if I wanted to.
  2. Hubby and I have one car, which he uses to get to work, which means I either need to call him, or walk where I want to go (or walk to where he works and just steal the car back. Mwaha!)
  3. It’s “walking weather” here in Idaho about four months out of the year. The rest of the year, I  go outside only to do research on what it’s like to trudge through an Antarctic wasteland. 😉

But a few months ago, someone posted something on Facebook that changed how I tackle each day. You’d THINK it would be a video on the benefits of activity (those are nice, too) but it’s not. You’d THINK it would be a well-written blog post about how all the “greats” took walks, which stimulated their greatness to even higher levels, but it’s not.

No…the post that sticks in my head every morning when I think, “I don’t want to go on a walk” is this:

Fellowship

It would take a comparison to the epic and awesome Lord of the Rings to get me off my toosh and walking daily.

On a scale from one to Lord of the Rings…how much did you walk today? (Tweet this)

I read this one day on Facebook and since then I’ve tried to take a walk every day. Now I’m inviting you to join me. Every day for the next 30 days, I’ll be taking a walk. Somedays it might be 5 minutes, some days it might be longer. The point is to get outside.

I grew up in a stunning valley in Wyoming surrounded by mountains, forests, and wildlife. You all know how it is — you grow up somewhere and you get used to it. All the things that tourists admire when they visit your hometown are old has-beens to you. It is easier for me to get inspired in a muggy, buggy, Missouri summer than it is to find inspiration here in this beautiful atmosphere.teton-valley

But then, I picked up my Legolas-persona and walked. I started walking every morning in this valley I’d grown to under-appreciate. And suddenly, through the time outside, it became inspiring to me again. The simple things — bird sounds, grass, wind, and the distance between me and the mountains.

Why in the world is a daily walk important for writers?

 

[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

old-curiosity-shop-take-a-walk

A favorite description of taking a walk, from The Old Curiosity Shop, by Charles Dickens

 

Do I really need to point you to all the research that explains how walking lowers risks of diabetes, creates stronger bones, and increases the focus of your mind? Walking stimulates your creative cells.

Here are just a few of the famous people who took daily walks: Charles Dickens, C. S. Lewis, Winston Churchill, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, William Wordsworth, Beatrice Potter, George Orwell, Orson Scott Card, Hippocrates…

Need I say more? Chances are, you already know it’s good for you and your brain, just like I do. In the UK, May is National Walking Month. We may not be in the UK, but let’s commit together to getting our brains (and legs) churning a little bit more this month. (Tweet this)

Most writing is done away from the typewriter, away from the desk. I’d say it occurs in the quiet, silent moments, while you’re walking or shaving or playing a game… – Henry Miller

 

My invitation — or dare I say challenge — for you:

  • Join me in going for a walk once a day for 30 days. (Tweet this) Even if that means a 5 minute stroll with the kids in tow, or circling the backyard while dinner re-heats.
  • Take a picture from your walk each day (if you want) and share it with me! I’ll be doing the same. It doesn’t have to be amazing or professional photos. I encourage this because it will keep our eyes open for the subtle beauties of the outdoors. I’ll be posting my daily picture on Instagram and Twitter, using the hashtags #Walk30Days. I’d love to see yours, too!

#Walk30Days

There are a lot of excuses we could make not to take a daily walk.

“I don’t have time.” That’s what I thought when I first considered the idea of a daily stroll. And then, suddenly, with my cup of hot tea in hand and the morning chatter of birds waiting for me outside…it became a necessity. A habit. A joy. It just takes intentionality to make time.

“I don’t have energy.” Then start small. Start with a walk to the mailbox and back. Five minutes. The next day, try six minutes. Ten. Fifteen. The energy will come.

“I have kids!” Take them with you! I know this is coming from a woman who doesn’t have any children yet, but show your kids your good habits. Let those habits leak into their minds. Encourage them to explore, be creative, be outside!

“I live in a city.” You’d be surprised what can be inspiring. And besides, your route is already mapped out for you with sidewalks!

Tips to get the most out of your short walk:

  • Leave your phone at home or in your back pocket on silent. Use only for your walk photo! 🙂
  • Bring a small journal or notebook with you and take notes on the ideas that you stumble across.
  • Don’t soundtrack your walk. No tunes! Rediscover the sounds of life.
  • Go alone, if you can. There’s a reason we do intentional things like writing, journaling, praying, alone. The brain can breathe a bit easier and think a little clearer.
  • Try to walk a little further each day. I take a little pedometer with me. The first day, I tried to break 1,000 steps, which may sound like a lot to some and a little to others. The next day I shot for 1,300. You could measure yours by minutes, or distance, or steps.
  • Pray while you do it! This isn’t a must, but it’s a great opportunity to spend more quality time with the Lord.

Not sure if you can commit to a full 30 days? That’s okay! Try it as long as you can. Let’s start today, together! Get those brain neurons firing and working on ideas. And share your first picture with me. 🙂

 

So…who wants to join? 

Even if you don’t join, what do you do to keep active and creative?

 

#Walk30Days copy

 



About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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29 Comments

  1. I’ll be joining you! I have been trying to get up early and walk.. but have failed! Having a “challenge” will help me! And hopefully keep me inspired!

    • Awesome, Sierra! Yes, it’s much more fun doing it alongside others. 🙂 I’d like to work toward taking the walk early, but that’s a whole other challenge for me. For now, I take it during “my morning” which is more like 10:00, LOL. Still, different times during the day have different stories to tell!

  2. Nadine,

    What a great idea!

    My husband and I already walk on a daily (or nearly daily) basis. Last night we walked in a light shower and I have a snap of a partial rainbow to prove it. I’ll be posting that on Twitter as soon as I download it.

    So I’ll join you, too.

    • How wonderful! I look forward to seeing that picture! 🙂 When Daylen and I were in Russia, one thing I noticed was how often everyone walked. Only a couple people we pet up with even had cars! Even though it was cold winter, I loved getting out and walking with them. It’s something I’d love to capture and continue doing here.

      So glad you’re joining! 😀

  3. What a great post, Nadine—and yes, LOR a great inspiration! (ha) Thanks for the link on the Writing and Wellness article. Nice to “meet” another Idaho writer. Will be sharing this post! :O)

  4. How fun! I think I’m going to try it. 🙂

  5. I love this idea. I had to tweet the LOTR même, too much. LOL
    I find that listening to podcasts stimulate ideas for me too. I understand all too well the tundra you need to fight through in the winter, living in Montreal, Canada.
    I sometimes find myself stopping in mid walk to record an idea. Evernote rules for that.
    I wonder if anyone out there uses the health apps on most smart phones? I use a Note 4, and it will count my steps for me. My goal is to beat 10000 steps per day. An hour walk with the mutt easily breaks this.

    • LOL, it’s a good meme, isn’t it? It’ll stick with you!

      And yes, I’m a huge fan of Evernote. When I can’t find a journal that fits in my back pocket, I usually turn to Evernote.

      10,000 steps a day! That’s fantastic! I hope to get there someday. Maybe I need to get a dog…

  6. This is a great idea and something I have tried before but sadly gave up on. It’s still somewhat cool here in Ok so I may give it a try…

    • You should! I’ve found mornings to be the coolest and the most inspiring, though that’s just for me. Charles Dickens walked at night — up to 20 miles a night!

  7. Angela Randazzo

    Ok Nadine. My jaw dropped. And then I closed my mouth and a huge smile formed!” Whoo,”I said! Nadine is taking a walk….EVERY DAY!!? Awesome! I’m with you sweetie! You know how much I love to walk.

  8. I walk quite a bit usually. I get 30 mins round trip to work each day (if I drive to the free carpark) or about 80 mins if I walk all the way (it’s been a while)

    We’re heading into an early winter down here, and I’m transitioning to doing more of my work at home, so this is the time I’m likely to start slacking off.
    You’ve challenged me to make sure I don’t.

    I’m in.

  9. Thanks for your commitment to movement. I think it’s one of the most important (but neglected) boosts to productivity and creativity. Good job! (This is something I do every day and have for 25+ years.) So glad you are making others aware.

    • What an inspiration, Carol! I hope to say I’ve done the same 25 years down the road. 🙂

      I’ve recently been discovering and seeing articles everywhere about the “sedentary nation” or “sedentary epidemic” of sorts that we’re seeing as our culture grows more dependent on transportation and comfort. Funny how a negative can inspire us to go against the grain!

  10. I’ve been writing as I walk for several years now. In crafting my novel “The Big Drift”–the 2015 winner of the Spur Award for Best Western Traditional Novel, presented by Western Writers of America–I put in 1,850 miles stretched across 395 straight days. I don’t merely take notes; I literally write as I walk. I even developed a new metric for writers: WPM, or words per mile. I average 35 WPM.

  11. This is so inspiring, and I think I’ll try it! I’ve been meaning to walk more anyway. (Apparently writing doesn’t count as exercise…who knew? It certainly feels like exercise!)

    • If only writing counted as exercise! At least our brains are exercising. 😉 So glad you’re on board and joining us! I’ve had a blast doing it every day. I think you will, too. 🙂

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