Take a Walk/Write a Book

Zuri in woods

As some of you know, I’m trying to lose weight. I’ve lost a little, but it’s a slow process (we go out to eat way too much here in Florida), so I’ve started taking walks with my husband on the days I don’t go to yoga class. Today I had a rough time convincing myself to go. Although it’s sunny, the temperature is only in the high 50s and the wind is blowing, making it seem colder. And I stayed up late last night, so I’m tired. And my back hurts. And…

Well, you get the point. I was making excuses, which I also do when it comes to writing. (I can’t write because I’m not sure how I want this scene to go. I won’t have enough time to really get much written, so why start. I’m tired…and so on.)

Starting a book and starting a walk are very similar. With both you have to decide where you’re going and what direction you want to take to get there. Once I get started walking, I usually find a comfortable pace, my muscles warm up, and I begin to enjoy the scenery. With a book, once the characters have been introduced and I’ve indicated the setting and time period, and introduced the major conflict, if only as a hint, I’m eager to tell the story.

As with writing, it’s the middle of the walk where I slow down. (We have a 1-mile loop we walk here in Florida.) I’m now at the halfway point. I must go as far as I’ve come in order to get back home. Can I make it?

My husband mentioned that when he was in training as a Marine, if they had a march, they often didn’t know where they were going, so he never knew if he was halfway there or not. I told him that reminded me of the difference between writers who are plotters (I tend to be one, though I do wander quite a bit.) and pantsers (who start out with characters and maybe a conflict or an idea and simply let the story unfold.) Pantsers may know where they want to end up, but they have no idea how long it’s going to be before they get there. Or maybe they don’t even know if they’ve reached the end until they do get there.

Today when we reached the last third of our walk, my husband yelled at me to slow down. I didn’t realize I’d picked up speed, but I guess I had. I knew I wasn’t far from the end of the walk, I knew exactly where I was headed. Again, this is similar to when I’m writing. Once I get past that middle (that’s where I’m stuck right now) and I can see the ending in sight, I’m eager to get to the computer and write. My fingers don’t type fast enough to keep up with the words running through my head.

And when I type THE END, I’m tired and happy and a little sad that I’ve actually reached the end of the story and have to say goodbye to these characters and their adventure. I have a similar reaction at the end of a walk. I made it. I’m a little tired, but the fresh air and the exercise were exhilarating. I accomplished what I set out to do.

I’m happy.

(Now, if I can just get through the middle of this book I’m working on.)

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16 Responses to Take a Walk/Write a Book

  1. Love this post, Maris. Walking, writing, procrastinating — you stated it all so well. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Annette Briggs says:

    Oh Maris, you are so right. Those necessary to our health walks can be so boring. We need the same thing to keep our walks from being boring that we do to keep our stories from being boring–the unexpected. Easier said than done, but I’m working on it.
    All the best, Annette

  3. Melissa Keir says:

    I loved how you tied it into writing. I’m certainly not really sure where I’m going and yet I love to take the time to get there!

  4. I can relate as a short story writer. When I do NaNoWriMo and get on a roll with the characters I tend not to procrastinate. But I find it difficult to set up a new short story. I find myself delaying the process. Organizing a list of ideas and characters ahead of time makes the process better but I still have to fight to get started, but once I do, I roll along.
    Loved how you related walking and writing. Great blog.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Pat, I like your comparison. I can understand why you procrastinate prior to starting a short story. In my opinion, a short story is more like a sprint. Once you start, you don’t have that lengthy middle; you’ve barely taken off, and you’re heading for the ending. I find short stories quite difficult to write, so good for you.

  5. Oh and I guess I should mention that we finally hit 50 degrees here in NJ and it feels so warm to me. LOL We’d began to wonder if spring would ever arrive here.

    • Maris Soule says:

      I know if I were in Michigan, I’d be rejoicing if we had a day like today. But I’m in Florida. Darn it all, it’s supposed to be warm, I’m supposed to be sitting by the swimming pool or strolling along the beach. (But I won’t cry for long. Next week temps will be in the 80s…and I’ll probably be complaining about the heat.)

  6. Bonnie Alkema says:

    Loved it, Maris. Great comparison of two things I often need a push to begin. I can relate.

  7. Diane Burton says:

    Great comparison, Maris.

  8. Loved the comparison to writing, Maris. And what a super picture. We’re sitting at 50 degrees, but it’s getting up to 73. I only walk inside though. Our air here is dismal, and allergies have allmost one in my DH and me. 🙂 It’s so interesting us both posting about walking today. Mine’s a different take, of course, just like two books each about the DEA would be different.

  9. Paula says:

    I am finally spreading my wings with fiction and I find I’m a pantser (?). I knew where I wanted to end up with my last little story and it was fun getting there. I let it roll around in my head first. But didn’t know how the players were going to interact exactly. Good post again, Maris.

  10. Tricia Collard says:

    Hey Maris. Greetings from cold, cold Michigan. I enjoyed your blog. Could feel your exhilaration as you finished your walk as well as your, should I say, frustration?, with the writing. Great comparison, too. Since I am not nor will I ever be, a writer, I have to say that I cannot relate. But I can picture you out and about with Bill. Is your canine friend with you, also, on the walks? We just adopted an almost two year old German Shepherd named Buddy. He’s a lot like the dog in your books. Fun loving, frisky, and a big bundle of joy to be around. He and Joey have become inseparable. Even takes him to work. . . We are heading to T.R. tomorrow to spend time with the folks and, yes, Buddy is going too. . . Just wanted to comment and say “hi”. Enjoy those walks and I hope you can lose every pound that you are aiming for. Hello to the red headed marine, too.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Great to hear from you, Tricia. I hope you had a wonderful Easter in TR with M & R. I understand the temp is a bit better this weekend. We have our son and his girls and his fiance and her folks all down here soaking up some sun and heat. How great that you adopted a dog. We have owned two German Shepherds and loved both. Our Ridgeback no longer goes on long walks with us. Bill tried taking him along, but on the third day Zuri went about a half mile and then basically said, “That’s enough.” I take him on shorter, sniff-the-pee-mail walks. We’ll be heading back to Michigan in a few more weeks, so tell that weatherman to get on it. It’s officially spring, so we want some spring-like weather.

  11. Joseph Higdon says:

    Also, I think it’s important to do something physical after a creative effort. I love hiking, and find myself developing character or plot while hiking. I always take a notebook while camping. I’ve written a lot on campground picnic tables after hikes.

    • Maris Soule says:

      I agree, Joe. Sitting at a computer for long hours is hard on the body. I know I need to balance that with exercise or I suffer. Also, keeping a notebook handy is always a great idea. Thanks for your comments.