“Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think of what it might be. In running the mind flees with the body, the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms.” – Joyce Carol Oates
I’ve heard many authors say that writing doesn’t happen while sitting at the desk with pen in hand or with fingers tapping on a keyboard; rather, writing happens while living–taking a walk, working in the garden, or cooking. I am always amazed at the ideas and images that flow through my mind while I am immersed in sweat. There is an irrefutable harmony between physical movement and mental stimulation.
Walking was instrumental to Charles Dicken’s daily work regimen. He typically sat down at his desk to write from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., when he would step outside and walk as far as twenty miles. He relied on his epic walks not only for creative stimulus but also for stress relief. On his most troubling workdays, he’d stop midsentence at the appointed hour, eager to move to his cherished outing.
Walking is a common literary habit of many writers. Dickens walked remarkably fast, at a clip of around four and a half miles per hour. William Wordsworth walked remarkably far. Thomas De Quincey estimated that, by his late sixties, Wordsworth had “traversed a distance of 175,000 to 180,000 English miles.” Other walking enthusiasts include Victor Hugo, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Henry David Thoreau, to name a few.