I just finished reading Step by Step, A Pedestrian Memoir, by Lawrence Block. It’s a combination memoir, travel piece and journal of his years as a race walker. I’ve read Block forever (I loved his column in Writer’s Digest). He’s funny and insightful. I expected a great read and I got one. I especially enjoyed his recollection of his unlikely pilgrimage along the Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
As I read the book I was reminded again of that link between creativity and movement, especially walking. Author Brenda Ueland regularly walked up to 9 miles a day (she was a prolific writer and she lived to be a healthy 93). Thoreau would ramble for miles through the forest every day too. Author Barbara Samuel titled her blog after her love of walking (A Writer Afoot:http://www.barbarasamuel.com/barbarasblog and she has spoken often of how important a regular walking habit is to her writing practice.
I walk several times a day with Team Sheltie, often with my partner or my son. It’s never a race walk. Depending on the friskiness of the dogs, it’s sometimes more of an amble. But it becomes a time for sharing confidences, or working through a story problem or hatching plans for the future. Or maybe simply a time to enjoy the changing seasons: the smell of lilacs in spring, wood smoke infused air in fall.
Author Julia Cameron calls walking a potent form of prayer. She says it leads us, a step at a time, and gives us a gentle path. Walking leads me, a step at a time, into my own creativity. Not every day perhaps, but often enough to keep me going back for more.