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.