Sunday, March 11, 2012

Writing Walks

by Carleen Brice

Need a clue? Take a hike.

I get some of my best ideas while I’m “not working.” Washing dishes, raking, weeding, walking. In fact, I often write while walking whether I intend to or not. There’s something about moving the body that gets the brain working creatively, and, for many writers, there’s something specifically about walking that works.

But I find that getting an idea isn’t the hard part. Read all the rest of the blog posts here for excellent tips on where to find ideas or how to generate them from your own life. For me the hard part is how to nourish that idea—how to keep feeding it so it stays alive and grows into something more.

For me, holding a whole story in my mind and heart is hard. With 300 or 400 pages of thoughts and actions, stuff gets lost. I can’t count the number of times (don’t even want to know!) I have written a scene only later to go back and find that scene doesn’t make sense because of something that came before it. One of the ways I know to keep the whole story fresh in my mind is to tell it to myself as I would tell it to a friend. And the best way I’ve found to do that is to put on my sneakers and start walking. As I walk, I imagine a good friend next to me, and I tell her the story like I’d tell the story of another book I read and really loved.

Over the course of a year or two or three or however long it takes to write that story, I will have to tell it to myself over and over again.

What about when I don’t know the whole thing? How does a writing walk help then? Well, I tell myself what I know so far about the people in the story and what’s happening to them. Walking while imagining my people lets me get out of my own head and my own way and immerse myself in the world of my story. On a good day I can write an entire scene in an hour walk.

Next time you’re feeling stuck or feel like you could use some fresh energy, hit the trails. (Don’t forget to take a small notebook or a smartphone!)

FYI, this is my last post as a member of the Girlfriends Book Club. Thanks Karin and all the members for the insights you’ve shared and for your support! I’ll still be a reader of the blog and hope to be back as a guest when my next book comes out. If you want to keep in touch in the meantime, please follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook.


  1. Walking works for me, too. So does mowing the yard or driving down to the post office. There's no pressure there to think of an idea or make a work in progress better; so, my mind works on it without affort.


  2. I too take writing walks, Carleen, and find them very helpful. Sorry to see you leave the Girlfriends Book Club. Wishing you continued success!

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  4. I get some of my best ideas while walking too :)
    Sad this is your last "regular" post. Best of luck with everything, Carleen!

  5. A fine farewell post, Carleen, full of good advice! Hope to still catch you at "the club." I hear it's one of those life-long member things! All the best to you!

  6. Carleen, I too am a kinesthetic thinker. And housework sometimes fills the bill too. I'll miss having you in our virtual ring but will try to keep in touch other ways (when I learn to tweet, for example.) And maybe if my next book ever gets done, we'll knock glasses together at a book festival again! Good luck and when your book comes out, let me know and you can guest post for me.

  7. Thanks everyone! I have enjoyed my membership with the girlfriends, and yes, I do consider it lifelong. Sheila, I'll look forward to toasting you when your next book comes out!

  8. I'm totally inspired by walking and why I often walk alone.

  9. Great ideas, Carleen!

    Wasn't it Agatha Christie who said the best time to plan a book was while doing the dishes? Sorry to see you go. Drop in and let us know how things are going for you!

    Take care,

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  11. I always thought I was weird. This is so true. Thanks for the confirmation.

  12. I do this also. I write most of my books while doing other things! Thank you and we'll miss having you on the blog.

  13. Oh, Carleen, this is so true . . . I often set off on a walk with a problem or something I don't understand about one of my characters. And then by the end of the walk, so many things make sense. It's amazing how it all works itself out, often when I'm thinking about other things.

    I'll miss you here . . . but I know we'll still be in touch.


  14. Ah---I so agree, and I wish I could get ideas more by walking instead of pulling weeds! Thanks for this post, and I'll keep up with you on Twitter. Love the cover!

  15. Carleen, we will miss you so much!! Please come back and visit us!

    I totally agree about the walking! There's something about getting up from the keyboard that gives my mind permission to wander. (It sometimes happens in the shower, too! Gotta invent a waterproof dictaphone for us writers.)

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