When thinking about reading, I imagine a smaller version of myself literally traversing the page as the writer creates a pace and path for me to follow. Both the shape and size of words act as physical boundaries for my imagined self to navigate. I can walk slowly along rolling vowels and stretching adjectives, or I can allow my character to slip between the spaces separating words as I skim a page. I can sprint with the writer, unconscious of their word choice as ideas propel me forward. I can -pause- on a word or idea, examining literal and intended meanings, allowing my mental state to explore the sensory implications of letters conjoined. Reading is a journey guided by the writer; writing is likewise a guided journey, a journey of sensory stimulation created by physical movement.
Walking improves thought clarity, as proven in experiments conducted by Stanford and the University of South Carolina. Both pace and the setting a person was in while walking impacted their ability to solve creative problems. Walking engages and distracts the unconscious mind allowing a writer to explore his/her conscious, intentional thoughts. Although I was unaware of the proven effects of walking on thinking and therefore writing until recently, I would take a walk before every standardized test I took in high school. Walking gave me an outlet for my physical energy so my mental energy could take precedence. In writing tests specifically, walking allowed me to gather my thoughts as well as expand my repertoire of sensory comparisons in my work. Good writers are partially good because of their ability to make and communicate physical observations in relation to emotional experiences. Walking guides writing as writing guides reading: it provides the tools for the activity. So the next time you find yourself struggling to write, go out and take a walk. It will enable you to think more creatively and inspire new connections in your work.