As past readers of this blog may know, I find that taking walks is a wonderful way to get my mind working on my books. In the past I have found myself rushing home to write down great ideas so that I don’t forget them, repeating them over and over the whole way. I have used my cell phone to call myself and leave a message, but I find that a little creepy, especially when I have to listen to my voice. So one morning last week I took a pen and some paper and set out for a long walk that would combine exercise with a little research. I felt that for the first time I was fully prepared.
I got nothing. Not a single image or snatch of conversation came to me. My characters stayed silent and inactive, mocking me.
I thought this exceptionally odd, since only a half hour earlier, as I sat in the dental hygienist’s chair, my mind was filled with bits of several works in progress, including a YA book that I have set aside repeatedly at the advice of my writing group. Characters were talking to one another, scenes were unfolding, and I was editing the book that is nearly done. I was still thinking about all of these WIPs on the short ride home, where I changed into walking shoes and got my supplies for the walk (keys and a tissue.) We do not currently have a Seeing Eye puppy in training, so I was going to be alone with my thoughts. I could fully focus.
The research aspect of the walk was to go somewhere I don’t usually travel, to look at the gardens in front of the houses. One of the books I’m working on, although I didn’t mean to until it started to write itself on a previous walk, has a garden theme. It is my Wally Morris series, and right now, at the peak of summer, I wanted to get a good sense of the local plantings. I altered my route and started taking notes, at least mentally.
It is fairly hilly in this part of my New Jersey town, and I was soon asking myself why I had altered my almost flat route to voluntarily walk up a hill. What was I thinking? But I chugged along, hoping to find some unusual plantings. I was let down. They were all pretty run of the mill.
I’m not worried though, since I am also doing more formalized research and since some of the houses around here have truly beautiful, sculpture filled gardens. There will be plenty to write about. But I am disappointed that I couldn’t sneak up on myself and catch my mind working its magic.
Now I’ll have to try to start it up again in the other place where creativity flows like water. The shower.