Many famous writers turn to alcohol or drugs, either for motivation or escape: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King and Ernest Hemingway, to name a few. I’m not sure the total number of renowned alcoholic authors is sufficient to claim a high correlation between destructive compulsive behavior and writing genius, but there’s enough to make you wonder.
A mysterious romance is often associated with troubled writers toiling over their unfinished novels in smoky studies with their favorite libations nearby. One might question if their coarse lifestyle infused their creative genius, or if their genius came first and was a burden too heavy for them to carry. I suspect it’s the latter.
Let me suggest there’s a better way to stoke your creative writing juices than drinking: walking.
Walking briskly for at least 30 minutes a day has been shown to stimulate your brain. Walkers are 50% less likely to develop dementia than non-walkers. Higher fitness levels are correlated with continued development of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex of the brain, both vital to memory and complex thinking. Those who remain physically active late in life are also more likely to demonstrate continued mental growth.
It also has been proven that those who walk regularly are happier and exhibit higher levels of energy. Regular physical exercise releases uplifting endorphins that improve your mood, as well as reduce stress and anxiety. You may have heard of a “runner’s high.” The release of endorphins is responsible for that buzz.
I start each day by taking a 45-minute walk with my dog along mountain trails. I’m not so sure if the walking has made me a more polished writer, but I can attest to feeling refreshed and in a much better mood on the days I walk. I am clearly more productive after my hike in the woods and able to focus at a higher level. Walking alone also gives me time to think, time for my mind to wander. I’ve come up with many new ideas for stories, plot twists, and character developments while sauntering through the woods.
While walking may not be as mysteriously romantic as Hemingway passing out at his writing desk after a night at a Key West saloon, it will definitely improve a writer’s energy and longevity. At age 64, I’d like to write many more years, so I’ll do anything to keep my body healthy and my mind sharp.
Although, I must admit, if I thought going on a weeklong bender would elevate my next Miles Stevens novel to best seller status, I’d be downing double shots right now.