Every writer has experienced periods of time where words effortlessly float from our fingertips and land on the page with purpose and inspiration. Undoubtedly, we’ve also found ourselves on the opposite end of the spectrum. There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting down to write, and having your brain sabotage your best intentions.
There are dozens of remedies for writer’s block. One of these is walking. Literary geniuses of past and present, such as Charles Dickens, Susan Froetschel and Virginia Woolf, have been known to hold the belief that walking and writing are closely related. Now, there’s research to back up their claim.
A study from Stanford University showed that walking boost creative ideation. The effects begin immediately and last for a short time after your walk.
The good news? The benefits of walking were exhibited in participants who walked outside, as well as those who walked inside. By this logic, just the act of pacing around your office could help jumpstart your next big idea. Those who feel more energized after breathing fresh air may be more inspired when they venture outdoors, but it is a matter of preference. I can see benefits on both sides of the coin.
Walking outdoors can be a different experience that depends on where you live or work. If you live in a rural area, walking in the tranquility of nature may be a nice prequel for your daily writing. If you’ll be walking in a busy city, some creativity may also stem from your interactions with others. A Scottish study indicated that walking in nature promotes a calm state of mind, but walking in an urban setting increases engagement. You may want to change your scenery based on the type of writing you’re hoping to accomplish that day.
If time or accessibility makes walking outdoors difficult, don’t hesitate to go for an indoor stroll. If you’re the type who prefers to be alone with their thoughts before writing, this may be the best option for avoiding contact with others that could disrupt your thought process.
If you have a pet, family or friendly neighbors, you may want to invite them along for a walk with you. It could be a great bonding experience while simultaneously being used as a creative boost. Discussing your writing ideas with whomever you’re walking with could also help you gain new perspective that your work would otherwise be missing.
Next time you’re experiencing writer’s block, put on a pair of sneakers and see where life takes you.