Monday, May 15, 2017

walking and writing / life balance

Years ago, when I was too impatient to wait for the bus to go to work, I realized that I could leave home only 10 minutes earlier and get to work by walking. Ditto the return route. That was how I started: 8 k/day, 5 days/wk.
That was a couple of decades ago. I no longer work in the same place. I still walk.

Walking clears my head. I like that it's gentle exercise. I couldn't sustain anything more aggressive. Moving my legs and body is a good antidote to the stationary hours I spend at my desk writing.

In the sense that walking progresses at a slow pace, walking mimics my slow movement through narrative.

The act of walking balances the act of writing.

My words stay with me too -- even when I don't set out to think about writing while I'm walking.

I replay dialogue. I consider adding a flashback to help with a plot conundrum.

Or I decide to describe the place that I'm walking through.

It often isn't a conscious decision.

Of course, I'm not the first writer who appreciates walking. I belong to a tradition of writers who trudge. Virginia Woolf and James Joyce to name a couple. More recently, Rebecca Solnit has written a book, wanderlust: A History of Walking.

I have friends who are writers with whom I go on long walks.

A good friend and writer, Elise Moser, suggested we do a walking/writing workshop to introduce others to the benefits that we experience.
Last Saturday, Elise and I conducted the workshop under the auspices of the Quebec Writers' Federation.

We planned a route that would take us along the edge of the upscale Montreal neighbourhood of Westmount, then down past the Lachine Canal to Pointe St. Charles, where I live and where I set my novel, Five Roses.

Between walks, we wrote.

Thank you to the Quebec Writers' Federation, the venerable Atwater Library, and the small but welcoming Café Lalli for sitting-down space. Thank you to all who participated for making it an enjoyable day.

This sweetie played a role too, because I saw her while I was walking -- so who knows where her red dress, red shoes, and the two red balls might appear next.


  1. Wonderful, Alice! What a great idea for a writing session.

    1. Thank you, Anita. It wasn't my idea, but Elise's. It *was* a great experience.