Jane Austen

Why Writers Need to Walk

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “It requires a direct dispensation from heaven to become a walker.” What beautiful words, fitting for a man who spent two years, two months, and two days in his singular “experiment in simplicity” at Walden Pond. Thoreau’s time at Walden included daily walks in the Walden Woods–long rambles that could last for hours.

Jane Austen stated her devotion to perambulating more simply. Ms Austen declared, “I walk: I prefer walking.” Her walks from her home Chawton Cottage to Alton Village, a bit over a mile away, have now become the Jane Austen Trail–a testament to her mark on literature and the countryside she called home.

It’s easy to be carried away by the sense of romanticism we project onto the times and places these authors inhabited. Thoreau’s marvelous solitude at Walden Pond, his long walks through the woods, writing by a crackling fire at night, kept company by the night sounds surrounding his one-room cabin.

And Jane Austen! How many women have pictured themselves walking those miles from cottage to village, gathering up their skirts to step the stiles and cross the footpath bridge over the stream, experiencing in that simple activity a wonderful timeless freedom.

As a writer and devoted daily walker, I believe there will always be a romance, a dance of sorts, between the writer and the natural world, the solitude of the pen on paper (today fingers on keyboard), the flow of words from the unseen to the seen. A unique connection exists between the writer and the world we inhabit. Many of us are inspired by walking; our muse speaks more clearly as we make our way along the trail or road or path. But why is that?

Fast forward from the 1800’s to just a few years ago and we find out why walking is the writer’s best friend. In 2014 Marily Oppezzo, a Stanford doctoral graduate in educational psychology, and Daniel Schwartz, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education published Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking. Their research proved that walking increases creativity by 60%. Goodbye writer’s block, hello wonderful words! And don’t worry, when seated at your desk, capturing the brilliance from your walk in written form, you will still be experiencing a “residual creative boost”.

In summary the study showed, “Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.” So regardless of what kind of wordsmith you are: author, blogger, essayist, speech writer, editor, journalist, etc, walking is your optimal work space. How wonderful is that? The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”.

That’s why writers need to walk.

How One Million Women Walking Came To Be!

 

Seven years ago I walked my way through the darkest time of my life--divorce, unemployment, giving up my home, clinical depression, and the onset of menopause. As a result of daily walking during that time I lost weight, overcame depression, got in great shape, was hired at two part-time jobs, found a beautiful new home and totally transformed my life.

My mind, body and spirit had become walking aware to say the least. I started seeing and saving reports on the health and quality of life benefits of walking from institutions like Stanford University and Harvard Health. I wasn’t really sure why I was collecting these reports but my intuition was telling me to, so I paid attention. Then our Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, released Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities. Reading Step It Up! was a turning point for me--it pushed my passion about walking to a whole new level. The seed of something had been planted in my subconscious and was growing with every walk I took and every bit of walking information I absorbed. I knew, I just knew, I was walking my way into something deeply meaningful and fulfilling.

As I kept walking and collecting information, I was inspired by beautiful articles on the power of walking from personal heroes like Elizabeth Gilbert and Arianna Huffington. I learned that many of today’s leaders practice the “Walk and Talk” meeting and I recalled the famous walking devotees from the past like Thoreau, Socrates and Jane Austen. Then I started sharing what I was learning with other women who were truly stunned. Like me, they didn’t realize that a brisk 25 minute daily walk could address so many critical life issues.

Based on my own life transformation from walking, the data on walking I’d been gathering and women’s responses to that information, I realized I wanted to share what I’d experienced and learned with as many women as possible. Then I realized--no--what I really wanted was to give women their own transformational walking experience! I became intensely passionate about doing this because I knew that daily walking = a happy, healthy, long life and I also knew that enough women living happy, healthy, long lives would be a force that could change the world!

So, I began asking women what it would take to inspire and empower them to become daily walkers. I learned that women need to be inspired by other women’s successes and by their own BIG WHY--a comprehensive and bigger vision of their life than the life they have now. Women want to be motivated to go for their vision by becoming accountable to it and by getting organized to make it happen. And women want to be empowered by steady support and continual inspiration from like-minded and like-motivated women.

I absorbed all of this information and naturally took it for a walk. I walked and wondered how I could combine my transformational walking experience with what I had learned about walking and what women needed to become walkers.


One Million Women Walking was born during that walk! I realized I needed to start a movement with a clear call to action and back it up with inspiring information that empowers women to transform their lives by walking. The rest, as they say, is history. Or our story as it happens to be.

One Million Women Walking (1MWW) has a very simple call to action: WALK! Our mission is to inspire and empower one million women who are not currently walking, to become daily walkers. And then we'll inspire and empower the next million. And then the next. And the next, and the next . . .

Please join us on Facebook and become a walking woman. You deserve a happy, healthy long life so start living it today.