Write While You Walk

Mary Oliver wrote most of her poems while walking.

She rejected the assumption that you need to sit down at your computer to write. Every morning, she picked up her notebook and wandered through the nature beside her home where she captured what she observed. 

More writers would write like Oliver if they knew it was an option. Others know it’s an option but insist on struggling at their computer because “that’s what writers do.” English teachers tell us to write at our computers because most of them aren’t writers themselves, so they’ve never faced the I’ll-do-anything-to-fix-it desperation of writer’s block. They’ve never felt the agony of a mind that buzzes with ideas but shuts off when you sit at the computer. 

Writing while walking is the solution. As Morgan Housel, author of the Psychology of Money, said in my interview with him: “If I ever get some sort of writer’s block, or I’m just trying to think an article through, I go for walks. I go for two or three walks per day, and that’s where all of the writing happens, and I usually take notes when I walk.” 

Walking creates space for big-picture writing. It’s a time to generate ideas and organize the flow of your articles. I come up with my favorite sentences when I walk too, usually inspired by the podcast I’m listening to when I’m on the move. Whenever I write while walking, I have one rule: write down every epiphany immediately. Writing the idea down encourages me to think deeper about a topic if I have more to say about it or move onto something else if I don’t have much to add. My neighbors probably think I’m crazy. At the very least, they think I’m a smartphone addict who can’t move 100 yards without typing into his phone. 

Next time you’re struggling to write, close your computer and go for a walk instead. Depending on what your brain needs, you can listen to the sounds of nature or blast music into your eardrums. Get outside and wander. Like a good meditation, put your intuition in charge and don’t steer your thoughts. If you walk frequently enough and capture your best ideas when you do, you’ll shatter the chains of writer’s block.


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