There’s a lost art out here in the west. It’s still alive in many other areas of the country (and world for that matter) but here in California, more specifically Los Angeles, it’s a rare thing. What am I talking about?
I love to walk. I’ve been a walker since I was a little kid. My parents tell me that my paternal grandfather used to love when we would come for a visit because he knew he could go on long walks with me around the neighborhood near their snowbird home in Yuma, Arizona. My grandfather was a farmer from northern Minnesota, so I’m sure walking wasn’t just a hobby with him, but something he did every day when he was actively working the fields.
Me, I have no excuse. Like I said, I started young, so no profession could account for my preference to walk than to drive. I just always loved to do it. And unlike most other kids that didn’t mind walking, I’ve never grown out of the phase.
How does this related to writing? In two ways, actually.
The first speaks directly to the desire to succeed at my craft. And by succeed, I mean become published. I’ve written before about my dedication to specific hours to write. Part of what made that possible was the fact that I purposely chose places to live that were close enough for me to walk to my day job. Now, for someone who loves to walk, that could have meant somewhere within a half hour to forty-five minute walking radius, but to achieve maximum writing time, minimum stress transit time, and not arriving at work in need of a shower, my first place was about fifteen minutes from my office. Later I moved even closer…now it’s ten minutes from living room to office desk.
What’s so big about that? You’re probably thinking. You can understand the living close to work to give you more time to write, and eliminating the mind-numbing chaos that is L.A. traffic. Why wouldn’t someone do that walk?
See, you have to know something about the L.A. culture. I had friends at work that lived even closer to the office than I did, and they DROVE EVERY DAY. Crazy, I know…irresponsible even…don’t think I didn’t bring that up to them, multiple times.
But that sad statement on L.A. society aside, walking gave me the time to write the book that finally got published.
The second way walking helps my writing is that it’s a great way to think about things. I’ll often go on a long walk as I try to work out some problem. I’m strolling the streets of the city, often the only one on the sidewalk, and working out the best way to throw Quinn deeper into whatever his latest mess is. I love doing that. Thought, admittedly, I often get distracted by the things I see around me. Billboards or items in store windows or people in cars will send me thinking about something else entirely. Suddenly ten minutes will pass and I’ll realize I hadn’t been thinking about my manuscript at all. That’s the price you pay, I guess. I still love it.
Often on these walks, whether it be to the day job, to work out a story point, or to the store, I’ll see something or think of something that triggers an idea for a new story. Some times so many ideas that I can’t remember them when I get home. (I know, I know. I should carry a notebook with me. Never can seem to remember to do that.)
I have a daydream of walking up the coast of California. Just lacing up the boots, throwing some water and snacks in a small backpack, and just going. Sure, it would be crazy. I’d need a little more planning than that. But who knows? Maybe someday I’ll wake up and say to myself, “Why not?” Then I’ll head out the door and see how far I can get. I’ll bet I could write a whole novel on a trip like that.
Again, the trick will be remembering it.
What do you do to kick start your ideas? (And Rob, I don’t want to hear any more stories about long showers or car drives…) And more importantly…walker, driver or passenger?
A COUPLE OF NOTES:
1. If you are still reading this on the last Thursday in February, and it’s not passed 6 p.m. Pacific Time, you still have a chance to enter my sweepstakes for an advance copy of my next novel THE DECEIVED. Info Here.
2. THE CLEANER gets its UK & Ireland release next Thursday March 6th. It’s a mass paperback so perfect for carrying around and reading when you have a moment or two of downtime!