Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Walking and Writing

If I get stuck with my writing, even briefly, or if I'm about to begin a new story, chapter or scene, I like to go for a walk. A thinking walk.

Most of the time when I'm walking, a story will seem to simply unfold. Something loosens between the footsteps and the daydreaming. I'll hear voices or picture a scene where before I was only wondering. Often, these ideas will feel as if they've arrived from nowhere, or from out of the trees, or from the sky. Or even from the tarmac. It's a bit like magic.

In Nottingham, one of my favourite places to walk is Wollaton Park, especially early in the morning when only the crows and the deer are about. When I'm back in London, it's Greenwich Park (I really like parks) because my childhood is very powerfully there. Sometimes it feels as if my small, secret writing self is waiting for me, ready to help, in Greenwich Park's rose garden, or by the ducks.

I know I'm not alone on this one. In her essay Walking into the Story the fabulous Helen Dunmore explores the subject far more eloquently than I ever could. While in The Faith of a Writer the amazingly prolific and generally amazing Joyce Carol Oates confesses that walking doesn't work so well for her. She runs instead.

18 comments:

Caroline said...

I drive! Driving is magical.
I think I am a lazy writer :)

x

watching9987 said...

I walk too, but only at night. Walking during the day doesn't do it for me. I much prefer late late night or stupidly early morning. And I listen to music as I go.

Megan said...

He, he, Caroline - that's so the opposite of true.
Being a bit useless, I can't drive, but I do also write a lot on trains. Perhaps it's not just walking, but travelling generally that helps? Or perhaps just snatching a bit of time that's only for yourself . . .
Either way, this is starting to sound like a good excuse for another holiday (;

Megan said...

watching9987 - sometimes early morning is the best for me too. I was very interested in what you were saying on your blog about the weather and writing. I also really like writing when it's raining hard outside. But I still wish it wasn't raining.

Lucy Diamond said...

Oh, I used to go sledging in Wollaton Park as a kid! I feel all nostalgic for it now...
I find running quite good for thinking through plot tangles personally. It helps take my mind off that 'How much longer have I got to do this?' feeling anyway!

Megan said...

Lucy - every winter since we moved here, 5 years ago, we've been getting excited about the fab-looking sledging potential of Wollaton Park's hills, but so far the snow's never been thick enough and the sledge is still in the shed ):
I bet it was great . . .

Brian Gardner said...

I agree with you. This can become a problem with me at times. Due to the fact I work as a security guard and do lots of rounds, my mind usually explodes with ideas. Many times I even realize how to finish an extremely difficult section or how to start another.

The problem here being is that at work its hard to get these ideas down in any form while still doing everything else, and there are times that I end up forgetting that magical link by the time I get home thanks to other events that take place throughout the day ;_;

I sometimes get things brewing while I'm driving, but since I've spent most of my driving time lately listing to Podiobooks the thinking has taken a back seat.

Megan said...

Brian, I sympathise! How frustrating is it when all those great ideas you never think you'll forget simply vanish?! There must be so many amazing stories floating about in the ether somewhere . . . I

Brian Gardner said...

A perfect example is a series of events that take place in my podiobook I'm currently in the process of releasing upon the world. In the process, I decided to add to the story the character of Shitoshi, who wasn't really going to show up story-wise until the second book of the podiocast.

It was only last week that I came up with the perfect chain of events that mold the character into the man I want the readers to see him as, yet ... it went poof on me. I must have sat in front of my PC for hours after work not typing anything simply because I wanted to get down what I had come up with.

Unfortunately, I still haven't remembered how I had it in my mind that day. On the other hand, the story itself is going good so I can't complain. Even better, about 75% of those who have downloaded the first chapter have downloaded the following chapters, so I feel pretty good about that.

Can't please everyone, but I'll take all the fans I can get ^_^

On a final note, got the email saying that your book shipped to me, so I'll let you know when I finish it and post a review for it on Amazon and my blog.

Happy writing!

Megan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan said...

Brian - please tell me more about your pod-book, and thank you very much for buying 'How We Were Lost' - I look forward to hearing your thoughts,
Megan x

Brian Gardner said...

Well, here comes an avalanche of words...

My podiobook is actually the prequel to a series of novels I am writing called Dark Future. The story is more of a what-if now then it was when I first started working on it back in 92'. Yeah, been working on it for a while, but I've ran into a few oversized speed bumps along the way, such as the file being corrupted in 99' after having roughly 750k words down. After that, it took a few years for me to get back into it, only to have me stop working on it again after 9/11 due to events that take place in my story that were too close for comfort with what really happened on that day.

Anyway, After nearly 6 years of not touching it, I really wanted to get back into working on Dark Future and in the process came up with the idea of working on Heaven and Hell and releasing it for free on the web in some form. By working on it, I figured it would help me get back into working on the main story as Heaven and Hell focused on the events of Tribal Warfare.

Back in April, I started to release minisodes of the Hell to Hell storyline (yes, the title changed) through the site www.helltohell.com. I did them this way as I didn't know everything I needed to do a podiobook and really wanted to get back to work on the story. Then on June 17th I released the first Chapter of Hell to Hell Book 1: Reemergence on the same site, which is the podiobook version of the story. The difference between the two is not only length (4-9 min per minisode compared to 20-30 minutes per podio chapter), but also the number of events I cover.

The story is centered around Derrick Hawthorn and Lane Morgan, childhood friends who find themselves on opposite sides after the Reemergence. The Reemergence is a revolution that happens inside of the United States by those that want to bring back the Confederacy in 2007, hence the now what-if feeling of the story. At least Dark Future still has a chance of fitting the 'future' aspect, as the first chapter of that story doesn't take place until 2018.

Anyway, the three books I have currently planned for Hell to Hell will cover the Reemergence of the Confederacy, Tribal Warfare and the creation of the 7 Nations of the America's.

Also, if you do happen to get interested and hooked, look forward to Shanta's book 'Marilyn and Me' making a guest appearance in Chapter Five ... which happens to be the next Chapter I'll be recording, unless I run into more troubles again >.<

As a final note, I have this tendency of talking about things I like at the end of each chapter and if I really like your book, I'll probably talk about it at the end of a future chapter ^_^

Jon M said...

I run run run! There is something about the rhythm of the feet etc but ideas just pop into my head. trouble with running is you can't stop and scribble them down!

Megan said...

Wow Brian, that is quite a project! Very impressive, and the evolving nature of it sounds intriguing. Your dedication, especially with coping with losing so much work, sounds amazing. Huge good luck with it all!!

hello jon m, I wonder if the words and ideas would come faster if I ran like you and Joyce Carol Oates? I think you're right about the rhythm and I really like the idea of it, but unfortunately I'm too sluggish (plus I like the stopping and scribbling things down bit)
m (:

Shanta Everington said...

I read on someone's blog the other day (can't remember who!) that cleaning the toilet does it for them! Apparently, that's where they meet the characters because their brain zones out from the unpleasantness of the task! I went to clean the bog to see if it worked for me. It didn't. I think I was too quick!

Megan said...

he, he, Shanta - I don't think I'd like to meet my characters in the toilet. I can't think why not . . .

Brian Gardner said...

Just received you book today ^_^

I'll let you know what I thought of it when I get a chance to read it, which will hopefully be next week after I get a few other things out of the way.

Megan said...

Thank you Brian - I'd love to hear what you think!
Happy reading ( ;
Megan