In a world where we can easily slip into the habit of hunkering down further into our smartphones while sitting indoors, what better way to spark the imagination and feed your senses than to get up and get moving?
I first read about the concept of daily artist walks back in 2008 in Julia Cameron's creative bible The Artist's Way Since then, I've lived and worked in so many different places and love seeing the different ways that walking looks for me over the years: the long straight country road where my family farm is, just before sunset; the city streets of Boston and Cambridge during rush hour; the small side streets in Virginia when I would walk on lunch break from my job at the lumber company. Not to mention all the walks I've done in places I've traveled; Ireland, Prince Edward Island, California, Washington, D.C., Maine, New York City, Chicago...the list goes on and gets added to all the time.
For me, walking is a practical way of stretching my legs after typing at my computer for too long and at the same time, a spiritual reset button. When I was struggling with writing my first play, I walked circles around Jamaica Pond, feeling the frustration and writer's block recede into the background with every step I took on the dusty path that encircles the water. I thought of the title for another play I co-wrote while walking the 15 minutes to the subway station. I often memorize a new monologue as I walk around my neighborhood and was so tickled to find out that movement has been shown to help with memorization. There's just something about getting into a rhythm where your feet seem to carry you along into a moving meditation that is just what you didn't know you needed.
Whether you have a mountain to hike or simply a stroll on the little street you live on, do yourself a favor and take a walk. 20 minutes is what Julia Cameron suggests, but anything is better than nothing. When I was out of work on disability for debilitating back pain in 2009 and 2010, I went for five minute walks through the parking lot of our apartment complex. Though it wasn't far and it wasn't glamorous, getting outside and seeing dogs out for their walks, cats in the window, and hearing the birds chirping made me hopeful that whatever blocks exist in your mind, life is flowing freely outdoors.
So the next time a crisis of creativity strikes, resist the urge to muscle through. Instead, try putting on our walking shoes (or go barefoot if that's more your style) and take a walk. I can't promise that your problems will be magically solved or that you will return to your desk to write the Great American novel, but I am confident that you will come back with a refreshed perspective.
Take it easy and have a playful week!