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Walking into Ideas

Pooh Bear was onto something when he went on his think-walks.

It never fails: no matter what mood I’m in, no matter how tired or headachy, no matter how preoccupied with other concerns, taking my dog for a good long walk always clears my mind and gets me thinking of writing. It takes about fifteen minutes for a peaceful feeling to creep through me. Then follows a spark of excitement that leads my mind where it needs to go.

It doesn’t matter if we walk on the streets or in the woods. There’s just something about fresh air and movement that opens my mind to stories. Some days I work out a problem or plotline in a novel, while other days I get the premise for a new picture book. There are times I have to run to the computer when I get back home, to write down the exact words I wrote in my head between stooping and scooping. 

So when I’m stuck in my writing, or in a self-defeating mood, do I purposefully head out with the dog? No. I wallow and grow more frustrated and only eventually walk the dog because it’s on my list of chores. Then my head clears and I think, “Wow. This happens every time I walk the dog.” Duh. Life may teach me the same lessons over and over, but I never seem to learn them.

But I have learnt the “write it down right away” lesson. (At last.) I can’t count how many times I’ve had an idea for a story, while in some inconvenient place, and thought, “I’ll never forget that idea. I’ll write it down tomorrow when I work on my book. It’ll be great.” Then the next day all I have to write is, “I had a great idea yesterday but I’ve forgotten it.” I now keep a writing journal, where I jot down ideas as soon as I’m able. And I carry a notebook in my purse just in case I’m inspired at the playground or wherever I happen to be. 

Ideas are not usually the problem, though. As most writers know, life offers up ideas all the time. I have dozens of folders of ideas sparked while reading, listening, watching. Expanding those ideas into stories (aka daydreaming) and sitting in a chair for hours and hours writing and revising them — that’s the tough part. (Of course, it’s easier if the idea is a really good one.)

Working out a good idea into a full-bloomed story that’s ready to be written is where the think-walk comes in. 

Maybe I could use one now. My dog looks like she agrees. So off we go.

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