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.”
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.
Since 2019 I’ve been working with Reckon Women to elevate Southern women’s voices. Each week we publish an original personal essay by a woman with ties to the South in the Reckon Women Voices column on ReckonSouth.com. Many of the pieces are also featured in newspapers across the region and even throughout the country. (One recent piece landed in a newspaper in Syracuse, New York!)
If you’ve been wanting to submit a story for Reckon Women Voices but you’re not sure where to start, here are my top tips for writing your story. (If you’re not a Southern gal, you can still use these tips to write personal stories to pitch to other publications.)