“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it…But by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill… If one just keeps on walking everything will be all right.”
I came across this quote from philosopher Soren Kierkegaard years ago, in a 1990’s Vanity Affair interview with Jessica Lange. I tore the section from the magazine and kept it all these years because it describes exactly what a good walk does for me. We all know (or should know!) the benefits of a brisk walk every day for the physical body. It’s one of the best forms of exercise and one that does not require a gym membership. And the contemplation you get to do while you’re walking does wonders for your soul.
I try to walk for thirty minutes five to six days a week. My thoughts during these walks often turn to my writing and my main protagonist, Veronica Walsh. I think about the plot of the story I’m working on or a particular scene I’m developing. If I’m stuck on a particular section or just can’t figure out the next action or line of dialogue, a good walk will often guide me to the answers. Walking has certainly helped me conquer the struggle for words more than sitting in front of my computer or notebook staring at a white page has. I’ve met new characters on these walks and renewed old acquaintances with other characters. I’ve resolved some of Veronica’s dilemmas while cruising around a cul-de-sac and have put her in, and pulled her from, some jams while circling the neighborhood.
What do you do when you’re stuck on a problem? Do you take a walk, or vacuum your entire house? Go for a jog, or lie down for a nap?