Why Christian Writers Need to Take a Walk

Why Christian Writers Need to Take a Walk
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There was a time when people would “walk a mile” to quiet their nicotine addiction. William Armistead, credited as the father of modern advertising, coined the slogan “I’d walk a mile for a Camel” in the early 20th century. But people who smoked generally were too out of breath to walk. Today we know that smoking leads to cancer deaths.

Christian writers should coin a new slogan for themselves: “I’d walk a mile for a good book chapter or blog post.” Walking can enhance both your spirituality and creativity.

Walking was important to Jesus. He did much of it himself (mentioned in Matthew 4:18 and at least 26 other times in the Gospels), and he was interested in healing the lame (Matthew 11:5), so they could walk.

Walking was a means to get around, of course, but walking also gave Jesus the chance to think. After Jesus arrived at his destination, he took an action of some type. In fact, he even used walking as an object lesson one stormy evening on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:22-36).

Walking on water is not a literal option for us today. Still, we are urged to walk in Jesus’ footsteps (Colossians 2:6, 1 John 2:6, 1 Peter 2:21). This means we should follow his spiritual example in our behavior. But there is spiritual power for Christian writers who get out of their chairs and start walking.

Why Walking Will Improve Your Creativity

I used to have a humorous poster in my office. It was a cartoon-drawn stool, and the text said, “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.” No, Winnie the Pooh did not say this first because it goes back to at least 1905, and A. A. Milne wrote his children’s books starting in 1920.

That poster was bad advice regarding creative thinking, at least according to research by  Marily Oppezzo and Daniel L Schwart at Standford University. They concluded that walking increased the creativity of their subjects by 60%. The subjects also retained a “high residual boost” after their walks.

Why do these benefits occur? We don’t have the answer to that yet. Some scientists conjecture that walking simultaneously stimulates large parts of the brain and encourages divergent thinking. Writers want to employ divergent thinking. It is when we create multiple, unique ideas to write about or solutions to our writing problems. It is our opportunity for spontaneous, free-flowing thought and enables us to see our way ahead.

Importantly, we do not have to think about our writing project as we walk. We enjoy our stride, breathe deeply, and appreciate nature if we are outside. Ideas and resolutions to our writing conundrums often just gel in our brains without giving them specific thought.

Famous Writers Whose Creativity was Enhanced by Walking

Henry David Thoreau, the 19th-century nature poet and essayist, said, “The moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”

James Joyce, the man who wrote Ulysses, a novel about what happened to the main character in just one day, came to the author’s mind as he walked around Dublin.

Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women and many other books, said, “My wise mother, anxious to give me a strong body to support a lively brain, turned me loose in the country and let me run wild.” She did not “run wild” in any moral sense–and she found joy in running through the woods, leaping fences, and climbing trees when she was young. She continued vigorous exercise in a far more tame way her entire life.

Ernest Hemingway said, “I would walk along the when I had finished work or when I was trying to think something out.”

J .K. Rowling once said there is “nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas.”

German intellectual and writer Friedrich Nietzsche believed, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”

The famous Danish Christian philosopher Søren Kierkegaard offered this advice: “Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day, I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”

And, of course, that is precisely the point of walking. It allows you to put your mind in neutral so your thoughts can cluster in your brain. As science writer and former endurance athlete  Christopher Bergland reminds us, “Exercise allows your conscious mind to access fresh ideas buried in the subconscious.”

How You Can Implement a Walking Program

Getting results from walking requires an initial act of discipline each day. But any worthwhile goal requires that, doesn’t it? What is that act of disciple? Get up and start walking without excuses or delay. From then all, walking will be a joy.

You don’t need to take long walks to get the creative juices flowing. According to the Stanford research, you started getting benefits after 5 minutes, and 15 minutes was enough to keep a creative spark alive nearly all day.

Short, vigorous walks like this also decrease stress and improve memory and concentration. There seems to be no downside for Christian writers, but you may want to check with your medical doctor when you adopt this habit.

Interestingly, the research also showed that you did not need to go outside and work up a sweat as you walked. However, inside (on a treadmill) or out, a writer needs to walk briskly to get ideas rushing through the brain. You need to get oxygenated blood flowing through it.

Personally, I like taking a short, brisk walk outdoors. It’s my habit to go out in the morning when it’s cold in the winter and cool in the summer and enjoy my walk before I face the challenges of my day. When my mind is in a freewheeling mental mode like this, I discover I often want to pray as I walk. It is a good time to commune with the Lord,

The Takeaway

Don’t just sit there! Famous Black baseball pitcher Satchel Paige had it right. He said, “Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.”

Start walking at least 15 minutes daily to become a better Christian writer. You get extra points if you jangle around as you do it.


Helpful post? Please share it with other Christian writers.

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