Walk for Writing

Walking plays an important part in my writing life. I often draft poems and stories in my head as I am walking. There is something about the rhythm of feet on the earth and eyes looking at the passing scenes that really is helpful. So you could just go for a walk and see what you think up. Or, as I sometimes do, start walking with some shreds of ideas in your head and let them jiggle themselves into shape.

Walking can be the whole reason for writing. Lots of people write about their walks. They write about what they see and what they think as they walk and what they have found out about the things they see.

Here is Robert Macfarlane writing in Holloway:

… Then by the side of a high old ash tree, we found a way back down into the holloway & so there we passed through that hole in the hedge & descended into the holloway’s depth, using ivy as a rope to abseil down the sandstone sides & into the shade.

The bright hot surface world was forgotten. So close was the latticework of leaves & branches & so high the eastern side of the Holloway that light penetrated its depths only in thin lances. We came occasionally to small clearings, where light fell & grass grew. In the windless warm air, groups of flies bobbed & weaved, each dancing around a set point like vibrating atoms held in a matrix.

At one point we could see along the holloway to the north, the curves of the walls holding the lens of empty light at its end. The view down a rifle barrel; an eye to the keyhole; a glimpse into the shade-world.

Notice how Robert Macfarlane has had three goes at describing that narrow view down the holloway. The rule of three! Don’t be afraid of describing what she see in more ways than one.

Holloway: a hollow way, a sunken path. A route that centuries of foot-fall, hoof-hit, wheel-roll & rain-run have harrowed deep down into bedrock. 

Macfarlane, Donwood, Richards (2013) Holloway. London Faber and Faber limited


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