Writing While Walking

Most writing teachers will say that writing only occurs when you get your butt in the chair and physically type or scribble on paper. But writing while walking, weeding, washing or even vacuuming can be beneficial. Here’s how.

Writing Tip for Today: How can you use “mindless” activity to organize your ideas?

Focus Your Thoughts

Our creative ideas can arise in many ways. Some dream their plots, others outline in detail and some of us “pantsters” actually organize our writing while doing chores or other activities.

Right now, I’m spending long hours at my injured husband’s bedside. His recovery is top of mind, but while he snoozes, I conjure up all sorts of writing ideas. I have a deadline coming up for short essays, so I keep my eyes and ears open for ideas of stories I can use for the assignment.

Other times, especially when I’m writing novels, I weed, wash or walk as I try to solve plot problems or decide what my character should do next. You can try to mentally organize scenes by keeping a set-up, build-up and payoff structure in mind. Remember to rachet up tension wherever possible.

Learn to Jot

When ideas strike, I don’t want to lose them. I jot notes to myself to implement the ideas on my manuscript. Yes, sometimes I jot down a phrase and then wonder what the heck I meant. But most of the time, a note to self helps jog my memory and lets me write whatever I was thinking about.

Writers are advised to always carry a notepad for recording juicy dialogue or observed actions. These days, our phones can record those notes, and we generally take phones everywhere we go. Why not use your phone to record ideas for scenes, corrections to plot holes or that brilliant phrase to use in your next writing session?

To help you remember why you’re recording a note, say the date, the chapter or working title at the beginning of your recording. That way, you’ll know when and where your idea is supposed to fit in your manuscript.

Ideas can spring up while you do a “mindless” activity such as walking or weeding.

Commit to BIC

All the ideas in the world won’t help if you never commit them to data. If you use a “mindless” activity such as walking, weeding or vacuuming to generate ideas, you’ll be creating a prime opportunity for your next BIC (butt in chair) session.

If possible, create a writing schedule. Break up drafting and rewriting so you don’t try to create and edit at once. Listen to your notes before you start writing. I will often place a hint right on the manuscript to remind myself of what I intended when I left off.

Ideas spring up while your brain is doing a mindless activity. I would guess that a different part of your brain lights up while you perform tasks that don’t require critical thinking. You can think of it as your right brain’s gift to you, one that flourishes when you aren’t trying to control your thoughts. Get out your weeder, your Dyson or your walking shoes and let the creative writing ideas flow.

Where do you get your best ideas?

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

1 comments on “Writing While Walking

  1. Hello Linda,
    I like your advice. I need some help to write a short story. I do read many story and trying to write a good one. I did write some shor stories, but I never like my own writing!
    Would you have time to coach me on line?
    I do live in suburb of Dallas Tx.
    Thank you

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