Thursday, March 11, 2010

Walking the Walk

I've been spending a lot of time recently refining my ideas for my next Mondia novel (sorry, Aliya, it still doesn't have a title). It would bestow too much dignity to call what I've come up with a plot, but I have a number of characters and several distinct story strands.

I've taken to doing a lot of walking recently, and I've reached the conclusion that this is fundamental to my composition process. I simply cannot sit in front of a screen and generate characters or storylines. I need to be physically active, but most activities are unsuitable for one reason or another: running is too strenuous; cycling requires too much attention to my surroundings and immediate safety; and swimming is, well, just too wet. But walking, with its relaxed pace and insistent rhythm, is just right. Every good idea for War of the Midget Trolls* has come on foot.

I know from snippets on other writers' blogs that I'm not unusual in this. Is there anyone out there who doesn't get their best ideas when they're out walking?

*Aliya - not really...


RDJ said...

Though I enjoy walking, I usually get my best ideas while cleaning up the house. Still, it's during a seemingly monotonous low-strain physical activity...

Anyway, it's not while at my desk.

David Isaak said...

Walking's good.

Some of my best ideas, though, have come in freeway traffic, as long as I avoid music and radio. Driving a car uses so much superficial attention that it allows the subconscious to get down to business.

In addition, this can pose the challenge of needing to make notes at 75 mph in heavy traffic, and the impracticality of this is exactly the sort of thing that gets the bratty, childish subconscious working at full speed.

But, then, I was born in California. In fact, I'm a second-generation Californian, which until the last couple of decades was almost unheard-of. So it may be some kind of genetic thing with cars and/or freeways.

Tim Stretton said...

Ryan, I try to avoid cleaning the house (much to my partner's disgust). On those occasions I cop for cleaning the bathroom, it's not great thinking time for me. I think it doesn't work for me because I need the bang-bang rhythm of walking to get my mind in the right place. Maybe I should just invest in a metronome.

David, the juxtaposition of "75 mph" and "heavy traffic" doesn't give me a good feeling. Generally I don't find driving productive thinking time, even with the radio off.

pecooper said...

Frances, I think you are referring to the fact that the speed limit in the US was lowered to 55 mph during the first oil crisis in the 1970s. Before that, it had been 70 on the freeways. Since then, speed limits have gradually gone back up. It's 65 on freeways between cities almost everywhere and in the west it is even higher. Nine months ago I had occasion to drive through northern Wyoming where the speed limit was 85. I was doing 95 just to keep up with car I could see a couple of miles ahead of me.

David, though, sounds like he lives in Los Angeles. There, everyone is compelled to drive at break-neck speed in bumper to bumper traffic, even me. You have to, or you'll be run down. I think it's something in the environment.