Walk this way

Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten

A new study by Standford University finds that walking can stimulate creativity. Last year I logged over 700 miles, I should have creativity coming out my ears!

All kidding aside, I firmly believe this is true, or at least it is for me. It isn’t just walking any repetitive motion painting, digging, etc. gives my mind an opportunity to drift. 024

When I was a teenager, I had a job working for the county. My job involved a lot of painting, meeting setting and housekeeping. I came up with some wonderfully detailed stories in my head during my shifts. Sometimes, I would rewrite books or TV shows to how I thought they should end.

It’s a little harder to drift into that dream state vacuuming the house with a bunch of kids tugging at your attention, but every once in awhile I realize I just cleaned the entire kitchen while thinking about my next writing assignment.

I try to walk every day, although I admit I didn’t do it as much this winter, I blame the sub zero weather. I also notice I did have little creative slump for a while. Now that I am walking every day again, I feel the creativity flowing through me.

While I don’t spend as much time coming up with elaborate stories now that I am an adult, I certainly use my daily walks to come up with new jewelry designs, knitting inspirations etc.

Of course, some of the time mundane tasks creep into my walk I plan a weeks worth of meals and write a mental grocery list (that I will promptly forget), or solve another problem.

Do you find movement stimulates your creativity?

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14 Responses to Walk this way

  1. Mike Staton says:

    I love walking and thinking and sometimes adding or tweaking plot as I make my way along my 30-minute walk. There was a time I could do a 2-hour walk, but after wrecking my hip and back on 3 occasions, I’m down to just 30 minutes before the pain kicks in. Thankfully, I can sit at my computer desk and turn my meandering thoughts on my walks into a few more pages of letting the characters make messes of their lives.

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  2. Doris says:

    I love walking also. Many times I use the break to cut through the mental fog that sometimes creeps in when I work (this includes regular and well and creative work). It also helps me sleep better and that is always a good thing. Loved this and think you nailed it. Doris

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  3. Kathy Waller says:

    I’m glad to know this. I guess. My wobbly ankles and the Texas heat make walking not so pleasant for me, but now that Stanford has weighed in, I guess I’ll have to tough it out. I used to do a lot of creative thinking during long commutes on a nearly deserted country road.

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  4. Kathy Waller says:

    Reblogged this on To write is to write is to write and commented:
    Julia Cameron said this years ago, but I hoped she was wrong. Now that Stanford U has weighed in, however, I have no excuse. Do you? Click the link to Writing Wranglers and Warriors and see what Jennifer Flaten says.

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  5. Great post Jennifer. I walk at least two miles every day (and sometimes more). Right now I’m listing to Affirmation books on my iPod while I walk but now that summer’s coming I’ll probably ditch the iPod so I can listen to the birds, frogs and whatnot out at the campground. I used to dislike walking unless I had someplace to go. Now I walk because I want to and I love it. As you said, it gets the creativity going, helps you stay fit, helps with stress and probably a lot of other things. I’ve had two major back surgeries and the walking helps me from getting stiff. I’ve been wearing a pair of old athletic shoes but since my feet hurt I just bought a new pair of walking shoes. What a difference. They have memory foam and those bubbles on the bottom – I feel like I’m walking on air!

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  6. totsymae1011 says:

    I won’t say I’ll start walking since it’s getting so hot down south. I need to do something though.

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  7. sstamm625 says:

    Absolutely! I get some of my best ideas when I’m walking. I bought myself an iPod several years ago to bribe myself into jogging. I’m walking instead of jogging now, and I’ve ditched the iPod. I use the time to think and brainstorm instead–or just pay attention to the world around me. Walking helps unstick me from sticky plot problems. My mother told me years ago–when I couldn’t figure out high school geometry problems–to go take a walk, and I’d be able to figure it out. Her advice hasn’t failed me yet. 🙂

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  8. Sometimes, taking a walk increases my creativity, but for the most part, the fresh air revitalizes me, and it’s a good form of exercise. Because I’m visually impaired and don’t drive, I do a lot of walking, even if I don’t have any particular place to go.

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  9. Nancy Jardine says:

    You make me feel guilty, Jennifer, because I’m forever saying that I must walk more. The only time I seem to get out of the house just now is either to walk with my toddler granddaughter, or to wheel the baby in the buggy. On these occasions it’s not really walking as the pace is pretty slow, the toddler stopping to look at every door or to pick up every stick along the pathways. Yes- I must get to real walking to spike the energy flow because you’re right, it does work. 🙂

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  10. Jennifer, I was just out in the yard weeding and primping my rock garden. As you noted in your post, my mind drifted to a much quieter place. Now, my mind is cleared and creativity is flowing again. Thank you for a great post.

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  11. Wranglers says:

    I get many thoughts while I’m on the move, but it seems that I get many more during a conversation with someone, and then forget them as soon as that person is out of sight. LOL I love to walk and climb. Cher’ley

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  12. katewyland says:

    I agree with you that repetitive work, i.e. boring, can stimulate your mind. When I was a teenager, I used to do the family ironing (and there was a lot of it). Created a lot of daydream scenarios while pressing the wrinkles out of my dad’s shirts.

    Unfortunately, I don’t walk as much as I should, but I do get creative when I ride my horse alone.

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  13. erinfarwell says:

    I grew up on a farm and collected eggs. walking up and down the isles I created story after story in my head. I also walked back to our pond or creek a lot, just to get out and moving. I, too, do better when I walk on a regular basis. The house has stymied me for a bit but now that I’m walking more, life is looking better. Great post.

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  14. I used to enjoy walking but this winter I got out of the rhythm and just haven’t made it a priority again. Once warmer weather is here to stay, I’d like to get back to walking regularly again … and probably will once we can get into the cabin (there’s a new foot of snow on the mountain as of Mother’s Day — BA HUMBUG!!)

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