We didn’t go anywhere this summer. Usually we take picnics to the beach, swim in the ocean, and take day trips to all the small towns up and down island. This summer we lived like moles, tucked into our respective studies, writing. I was working on my memoir Growing Up Weird and Grant was writing View From The Tower, tales of his life as an air traffic controller in Port Hardy. It was abnormally hot outside and our house was cool.
If my cocker spaniel didn’t demand her walk every day, I doubt I would have been in the sun at all. Lucky for me, we have a beautiful sea walk along the ocean that makes walking a pleasure. I am a morning person and writing first thing in the morning is my preference, but I also have become lazy as I have aged and I like to lie in bed and have a long think in the morning. So we have this conflict—walk the dog early before it gets too hot or write early and then pant (her) and sweat (me) walking later. I would like to be one of those writers who get up at 5 o’clock in the morning and write for two hours before breakfast, but I am not.
One plus to walking is the time it gives me for thinking. I can never start a story until I get the first line. Once I have that it usually flows, even if I abandon it later. While I am walking, ( we stroll, my dog is old, so strolling is what we do), I toss thoughts around until they fall into a sentence or phrase that quickens my senses. If I have planned ahead, I have my notepad and record the words. It is amazing what seeps through when I am gazing mindlessly at the ocean.
A few years ago we lived in Lantzville, a small seaside community north of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. I had just retired and we enjoyed walking on the beach every day. We often ran into a neighbour, a writer, also walking along the beach. I confess to thinking churlishly about him as he was married with two young children and he had quit his good paying job to write. In fact his wife worked to support him in his dream. I thought that at the very least he should be home writing, not beach walking as though he all the time in the world.
I realize now he was working, he was thinking while walking. His name is John Wilson and he has done very well for himself. He writes young adult historical fiction and non-fiction, has published more than 30 books and won many awards for his writing. And John, if I ever run across you at some book do, I will apologise for my thoughts.
Walking is beneficial for writers. Something about the meditative aspect of it relaxes the mind and opens creativity. So if you see me walking the Sea Walk, with a glazed look on my face I am probably writing.