Sunday, 3 July 2022



Since the first lockdown walking has become an important part of my life and I'm lucky enough to live where country lanes, woods and fields are only a few steps away. Exercise and fresh air are their own rewards, but I've found another. It stirs up story ideas. That's not a new revelation of course, some of the greats have used walking as inspiration.

    Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway were all avid walkers and we know Wordsworth trekked many, many miles up mountains and down country lanes observing daffodils and clouds.

    But there's now research to back up the theory that walking and writing are closely connected. A study from Stanford University showed that walking led to more creative thinking. In experiments eighty to a hundred per cent of participants produced more creative solutions to problems while walking, as compared to sitting. 

    I love walking outdoors with friends, but it seems that in or out, with others or alone, makes no difference. The act of walking itself produces more creativity. Hearts pump faster giving more blood and oxygen to the brain and the gentle exercise leads to new connections between brain cells.

    Apparently, where we walk does matter though. A study from the University of Carolina showed the cognitive benefit of interacting with nature. It's no surprise that green spaces, parks and woodland, were best for creative thinking.

I keep count of my steps, it's fun to compete against myself, but the magical 10,000 a day was made up by marketers who sold pedometers in Japan in the 1960s. Still, it's a good benchmark. If my walks chalk up about that number, I'm happy.

    And in the meantime, that plot twist, character flaw or elusive denouement, strolls along quietly beside me.


Sue Purkiss said...

Lovely post, and interesting to hear about the research.

Sharon Tregenza said...

Hi Sue, yes I think we always knew that walking helped creativity but the scientific research backs that up now. :)