Thursday, November 15, 2012

Walking a novel: An update

Back in August, in the early days of adjusting to my new life in Massachusetts, I mentioned that there was an extensive trail system right near my house. I decided to squeeze a daily walk into my schedule, both to get some much-needed exercise, but also to add some thinking time into my writing life.

Well, it's mid-November now. Some days (like today) it's raining. Or other days, it's cold, or I'm exhausted, or I'm running out of time. Some days I don't make it out. But most days I've kept walking. And I have noticed some positive changes in my writing routine.

I used to be a big time pacer while working. I also did a lot of laundry as I tried to sort out my writing problems. But lately I've gotten into the habit of jotting down all my questions and worries and taking them with me on my walk. And by the time I get home, I almost always have an answer. Sometimes the answer takes three days and several walks to develop. But I've definitely spent less time staring at my screen these past few months.

I also love being out in nature every day. I check up on the Canada Geese, the turtles, the ducks. Every so often I'll see herons or hawks. I've always been a woodsy person, and I feel most myself when I'm outdoors. And it's helped the writing, too. I'm giving myself time to think, so instead of settling for the easiest answers, I hope I'm finding the right answers.

Of course, I've been doing less writing overall. Mostly I attribute that to working part time rather than the walks. But I rarely have days where I write for hours on end. Worse, the walking wears me out! Obviously, that's a good thing. But it's also then tempting to snack and hang out online, rather than getting on with work.

I've been thinking about all this lately as it's getting dark earlier, and colder, and I wonder what my winter schedule is going to look like. But for now, I think it's working, and I hope I'm able to keep hitting the trails.

Have you ever changed your writing schedule? How did it work out?

*The picture is mine, taken this past August. Obviously the trail doesn't look quite so lush anymore. I'll have to bring my camera out again to get some updated shots.

10 comments:

  1. I also use my walking time to solve problems. I have found that my walking-solutions are much more creative than my non-walking solutions. I predict that you won't have trouble adjusting to the cold. You'll warm up pretty fast once you hit the trails.

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    1. I hope that's true, Janet! Anyway, isn't it funny how moving our feet seems to make our brains move better, too?

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  2. That looks like a lovely trail. I need to get back to walking in nature. It has such a calming effect on me.

    Ah, I wish I could change my writing schedule. It's pretty much set in stone now with my day job. Now that it's getting darker, I may try again to see if I can write in the mornings. We'll see.

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    1. Yeah, that's exactly how I feel, Karen! I'm so much more me, and happier, when I'm out in nature.

      I like the idea of a seasonal writing schedule that changes with the weather and sunlight hours!

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  3. I love walking. Unfortunately, I've been doing less of it.

    I'm always adjusting my writing schedule. Sometimes I write only on weekends and other times mainly on weekdays. I take my day job and other obligations into consideration. I'll take whatever writing time I can get.

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    1. The walking is definitely time-consuming! That's great that you're able to be more fluid in your routine and snatch whatever time you can find. I need to be better at that.

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  4. Sounds like a lovely routine you've established for yourself, Anne. I do love walks, but I'm a terrible self motivator. I just can't seem to get myself out of the house unless someone else initiates the walk. But, I'll admit, hearing about how you think over your story problems as you go sounds like a wonderful idea. Hmmmm, will it be enough to tempt me out of the house to try for myself? I'll let you know ;)

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    1. Ohhh, do let me know! I hope this can be inspirational for you! I found I had to force myself to go every day, on a pretty strict schedule, the first few weeks. But now it's really become routine. My schedule isn't so strict, but I always hit a point mid-morning where I think, "Right--I need to get walking to sort this out."

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  5. My available time for writing definitely changes with the seasons: whether school is in our out, whether we have visitors or a lot of social engagements, holidays.

    At the moment I'm trying to get back in the groove after the fall school holidays but I fear it may be Christmas before I get a new routine going! I've almost decided that for me there can't be anything like a routine so much as snatched opportunities. At least for now.

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    1. It sounds like you're probably right. Hard to write like that, but then again, it's hard to have vast stretches of time, too. I hope you can find a routine (even a flexible one!) that works for you!

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