Writers on foot

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I’ve always been a big fan of walking. It’s such good exercise, doesn’t really require any major investment in equipment (although good shoes are damn expensive, aren’t they?), and it’s easy to fit into my schedule because it’s usually how I get from point A to point B. I’d say that, on average, I manage to walk about an hour a day. Sometimes more, but on a lazy weekend definitely less. Even in the depths of winter, I still lace up my boots, bundle up, and go outside for a walk.

I’m not surprised that so many well-known writers have felt the same way as I do about walking. I know for me, it clears my mind and wakes me up. If I’m stuck on something, a walk can help me sort it out. Or at least distract me for a while, which is sometimes just as valuable.

In the book Odd Type Writers, author Celia Blue Johnson lets us in on the habits of some famous writers, including walking. For example, Robert Frost walked in the wilderness for hours, and William Butler Yeats would wave his arms and mutter as he walked. Henry David Thoreau said that walking is a noble art that few people have mastered. Here are what some other famous writers had to say about walking:

“This one, who walks fast, with a keen look in his eyes, is all concentrated in his own mind; he is up at his loom, weaving and weaving, to set the landscape to words.”
Robert Louis Stevenson from his essay “Walking Tours“.

“Even if one wants to feel depressed one can’t after an hour in the wind and the moonlight.”
Aldous Huxley would walk alone at night for hours.

“If I couldn’t walk fast and far, I should just explode and perish.”
Charles Dickens walked quickly throughout the streets of London and wrote the essay “Night Walks“.

“I have been in such a haze & dream & intoxication, declaiming phrases, seeing scenes, as I walk up Southampton Row…”
Virginia Woolf, inspired by her walks, wrote the essay “Street Haunting: A London Adventure“.

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