Reflections on Writing and Walking

I have been writing slowly recently.

A few years ago, when I was writing The Assalay Trilogy, I was faster. I worked pretty steadily at a rate of about 1000 words a day, five days a week. I haven’t achieved that since and I’ve been wondering why. Maybe it’s…

Genre?  My last two books have been  more or less contemporary realism, rather than fantasy. So I need to stop and check facts more often nowadays, rather than just letting my imagination – and words – run.

3 dragons








Sheer necessity? I had publisher’s deadlines for books 2 and 3 of the Trilogy.  The only deadlines I have at the moment are the ones I set myself… and they tend to be a bit flexible.








Confidence, or lack of it? The Assalay Trilogy didn’t have a smooth ride… and starting again after that felt (and still sometimes feels) like a steep climb.








Or maybe it’s something else…

My children were still quite small when I was writing Assalay. School was about half a mile away. We walked there, and the walk home, on my own, became a time to day-dream the next passage, to work at niggly points, to be gifted flashes of inspiration.  But now that the girls travel to school by themselves, my day begins with making a cup of tea, opening the laptop and starting to write.








Maybe the fact that I no longer start the morning with a walk is the critical difference?

A little internet searching produces pages of anecdotal and research evidence of the positive relationship between walking and writing. Wordsworth’s estimated to have notched up 180000 miles during his lifetime; Dickens would routinely walk journeys of 20 or 30 miles in a day. And many other writers have noted the creative benefits of writing, from Thoreau and Hemingway to Orson Scott Card and JK Rowling. It’s a truism that physical exercise benefits the brain (increases in heartbeat, blood flow, and oxygen) but walking seems to have a special connection with free, speculative and creative thought. It’s so utterly natural that we don’t have to give any thought to it: our minds are left totally free to float and wander. And I found fascinating the notion of a loop between the rhythms of speech in our heads, our emotional state and the changing pace of our feet: the way that walking can mirror our mood and thoughts.







So guess what September’s resolution is?

I’ll let you know how it went in October.




Why Walking Helps Us Think (New Yorker)

The Slow Death of Purposeless Walking (BBC magazine)

Essays on Walking and Writing (







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