A walk is only a step away from a story, and every path tells. – Patrick Leigh Fermor
I’m so obsessed with the topic of walking and writing I should write a book on it. Duncan Minshull did. In his book Beneath My Feet: Writers on Walking, Minshull includes a letter that Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote to his niece in 1847. In it he declares:
“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.”Søren Kierkegaard
These words could have been my mantra last year. In 2020 I committed to walking for exercise for at least 30 minutes every single day – in spite of the fact that I was going through breast cancer treatments. And I stuck with it. I walked just hours after my lumpectomy. I walked after surgery for my chemotherapy port placement. I walked after my first chemotherapy treatment and I walked on the days when chemo made 30 minutes feel like 30 miles. I was even quoted in Oprah magazine because of my walking challenge!
In addition to faith, family, and friends, the things that got me through cancer were walking and writing. And therefore, I believe I can walk and write my way through anything. And I am convinced that walking and writing go hand-in-hand.
Walking Can Boost Health and Creativity
Lots of famous writers like Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway loved taking daily walks. In 1851, Henry David Thoreau delivered an entire lecture on walking at the Concord Lyceum. And in The Awakening, one of my favorite novels of all time, Kate Chopin writes “I always feel so sorry for women who don’t like to walk; they miss so much — so many rare little glimpses of life…”
We know that both walking and writing can boost your health. Yes, writing for wellness is a thing. That’s why many health care professionals, from medical doctors to psychotherapists, recommend writing as a way for patients to heal ailments of both mind and body. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, journaling every day can help you manage anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with depression.
Related Reading: This Journaling Practice Could Change Your Life
Meanwhile, walking is the most underrated form of exercise and deserves so much more praise than it gets. According to Healthline.com, walking just 30 minutes a day can help
- strengthen your heart
- lower your blood sugar
- ease joint pain
- boost immune function
- boost energy
- improve your mood
And the toned legs you can get from walking daily is a nice incentive, too!
Of course, you should talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen if you’re not sure you’re healthy enough to walk.
But I’m convinced that walking can make you a better writer, too. Science says so. A study from Stanford University found that creative thinking improves while walking and shortly thereafter. And, as explained in an article from Stanford on the study, this works whether you’re walking inside or outdoors. Apparently, it’s the act of walking itself, not the environment, that can get your muse moving. Perhaps that’s why I always get inspired to write while I’m walking. You’ll often see me take my phone from my pocket mid-walk to thumb out ideas in my Notes app.
But for me the connection between walking and writing goes even deeper than this. Cancer and chemo made me feel as if I had no control over my own body. But with each walk I felt I was taking back my power. I was taking back my agency over my own body. And I felt like myself – even if just for a little while. Sticking with a walking routine can make you feel strong and give you the courage to stick with that blog or the book.
How to Make Time for Walking and Writing
If you’re struggling to find time to write every day, the idea of trying to walk every day, too, might seem impossible. But I believe that taking time to walk can actually help you find time to write. Let me explain.
When I set out to walk every day for 366 days, I prioritized this goal. This meant that each night as I sat down with my Day Designer to plan the next day I would schedule when I was going to go for my walk. And I would treat this time like an appointment that I couldn’t miss.
We must do the same thing with writing. Prioritize your writing goals. Be intentional and schedule time to work on your writing goals every day or at least five hours a week.
And remember that with both walking and writing, you don’t have to set out for a marathon. Just as walking only 30 minutes a day can improve your health, writing just 500 words a day could help you finish that book you want to publish. Writing in your journal a little bit every night could help build enough material for that blog you want launch.
During my cancer treatments, during my quest to walk every day for 366 days, I had the privilege of watching a Facebook Live discussion between GirlTrek, Nikki Giovanni, and Angela Davis. Ms. Davis shared that she walks for exercise every day, too. I was so excited to learn this. I felt like confirmation that my goal was a good idea. And during the talk Davis left us with a charge: “Walk in the direction of freedom.”
I believe that when you walk for the sake of both your wellness and your writing, you’re doing exactly that.
The #SeeJaneWalk Challenge returns!
In June of last year, I challenged the See Jane Write community to walk with me – in spirit at least – by committing to walking for exercise every day for 30 days, and so many of you joined the fun. The #SeeJaneWalk challenge is back! This year I’m hosting the challenge in April because y’all were struggling with that June heat.
There will be prizes. If you successfully complete the challenge, you’ll be entered into a drawing for one of three prizes -– The Content Planner, 6-month membership to the See Jane Write Collective, or a one-hour coaching session with me.
If you are unable to walk, you can participate by doing some type of fitness activity for 30 minutes each day. Let’s call this challenge #SeeJaneMove.
Throughout the month of April share scenes from your walk or workout on your Instagram grid or Stories with the hashtag #seejanewalk or #seejanemove. And don’t forget to tag me @seejavaciawrite! I’ll also be checking on your progress in the See Jane Write Network Facebook group.
See Jane Walk – The Playlist
I put together a See Jane Walk Spotify playlist of some of my favorite girl power songs to trek to. (If you don’t like Beyonce, you won’t like this playlist. Sorry. Not sorry.)
If you’re looking for some indoor walking workouts, check out Walk at Home on YouTube.
If you’ve got time for a longer indoor walk, check out 10,000 Steps at Home by Get Fit with Rick. And if you want to add some strength training to your indoor walk, try this 5 Mile Walk by Keaira LaShae.
But my favorite indoor walking workouts are by Tiffany Moore of Moore2Health. And I never miss her live indoor walks on Facebook on Mondays at 6 p.m. CT. Perhaps you’ll join me for one this month!