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Sunday, January 23, 2005


"Go forth, under the open sky, and list
to Nature's teachings." William Cullen Bryant

Whenever I feel myself mired in the sludge of writer's block, I take a walk. Living, as I do, in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, with the mountains, forest and ocean close at hand, there are multiple choices of places to take a meditational stoll to find my Muse.

Lately, on this "wet" Coast, we've had an unrelenting deluge of rain, causing fatal mud-slides and floods. Good weather for ducks, maybe, but not too pleasant for hikers, joggers, walkers or even drivers. However today the weather gave us some respite and the rain let up. In addition, the temperatures were a balmy 14 C. The first green buds were sprouting on the branches.

I'd spend the evening yesterday out in the 'burbs at my friend's place. She's a writer too, and has the good fortune to live in a lovely condo with the forest at her back door and a nearby river, that is a salmon spawning ground. A perfect setting for a nature walk.

Last night she and I spent time talking about our writing, reading new work and discussing it with each other. I always enjoy spending time with this particular friend as we both find it an inspiration. This morning, donning rain gear (which we didn't need) we set off for a river walk. She's an avid birder, and took along her binoculars. We immediately spotted a great big old grandpa gray heron. On our way along the trail we saw various small birds, a variety of ducks swimming on the ponds and a young bald eagle.

Walking along in the pine and cedar fragrant forest, drinking in the cool rain-fresh air, just the chance to oxegenate the body was a refreshing treat. The river is swollen from the rain, a rushing torrent with white-water dashing over rocks. The sound of it roaring and splashing, the twittering of the birds in the underbrush, the crunch of our footsteps on the path, were soothing to the spirit.

I love walking in the forest. And I also like to walk by the ocean. Sometimes I go on my own and walk the sea-wall, especially when I am trying to work out a particular difficult passage of writing, or ready to start a new project, sometimes just to sort out my every-day thoughts. I tend to be a 'walking writer' and some of my best thoughts and ideas have come when I am on a hike. I have written a great many passages of my novel, bits of dialogue, description, narrative, when I am walking. So I always carry a notebook, ready to jot down my spontaneous thoughts. And it's these spontaneous bits of writing that are so often the pieces that need little or no editing, that keep your story 'fresh' and the action immediate. In fact, I got the idea for this blog today while I was walking in the woods.

So, if you're struggling with your writing, I suggest this: Get yourself out to a park, a quiet trail in the forest, a sea-wall walk, a stroll along a beach -- somewhere in nature where you can calm your mind and let the good thoughts wash through you. "Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher." (William Wordsworth)

"To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language." William Cullen Bryant

1 comment:

Red Dog said...

I'm inspired already. Got the notebook, just gotta find a pen.