People have different ways of relaxing and of getting their creative juices flowing. For me, nothing beats a walk. It doesn’t have to be a ten-mile hike – it can be a ten-minute stroll to the shops. The point is, if I spend too long hunched over a keyboard, my shoulders start to throb and my brain turns to soup; and that’s when I know I need to head outdoors.
Walking is the most beautifully simple form of exercise, good for mind and body, but too often it’s under-appreciated. It may not burn off the calories as quickly as sprinting or pumping weights, but it’s such a great way to relax and unwind. What’s more, you don’t need to be going anywhere in particular. Walks don’t have to serve such a mundane purpose.
I was delighted therefore to come across this article yesterday celebrating the art of walking nowhere, of a good aimless wander. It’s no surprise that writers are among its greatest proponents. Take this quote: ‘Charles Dickens was a walker. He could easily rack up 20 miles, often at night. You can almost smell London’s atmosphere in his prose.’ I can’t think of a greater recommendation that that.
Freeing your mind to wander over the sights and sounds, whether of serene countryside or busy city streets, combined with all that oxygen washing through your brain … no wonder creativity can get such a boost.
I’ve also always found walking a fantastic stress relief. I can remember as a moody, hormone-addled teenager, trying to get myself lost in the streets of Southend. (OK, Paris or London would sound better there, but when you’re from Essex you take what you can get.) When my novel BASIC Boy starts with the protagonist Cal walking aimlessly, trying to escape the pressures of his life just for a moment, there’s more than a little bit of me in there. The difference was in Cal’s case it led to adventure. It never really did for me – but when you leave your home and head off wherever, there’s always that possibility isn’t there?
Do you like to take a walk? Or do you have other ways to lower your stress levels and unleash your creativity?