Last Thursday, as part of the 2015 Guildford Book Festival, I got to spend the first half of my morning sipping tea out of fancy cups, eating devilishly good cake and basking in the company of bestselling novelists Giovanna Fletcher, Jenny Colgan and Adele Parks.
It was a pretty fabulous way to start the day.
There are all sorts of things I could write about having spent time with these three incredibly talented (and funny, and inspiring) authors. Looking back on the event though, I remember one point – made by Jenny – striking a particular chord with me: a point about the wonders of walking.
Like Jenny, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about so-called ‘writer’s block’. However, I do know that there are days when I find it very difficult to write – either when I’m lacking ideas in general, or when I know what I want to write about and just can’t seem to find the words.
Days like those are extremely frustrating, and I rarely end up with much to show for my time. However, I’ve been writing for long enough now to know that if there’s one thing that will get me going again, it’s going out for a walk.
When I walk, I think. My body’s moving, my mind feels it should be moving too, and when I leave it to its own devices, it’s amazing the progress it can make. Words, sentences, stories… they’ll bubble up in my head, my imagination will run wild, and before I know it, I’ll be powering back home again, desperate to get back to my laptop.
Of course, it doesn’t always work quite like that. A half-hour walk doesn’t always solve all my problems – results can vary hugely. But for me, walking is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to overcome writing difficulties. The only thing I do find frustrating is having to endure so many looks of bewilderment and concern when I’m out. I may be by myself, going round in circles, pulling strange faces and/or muttering to myself (it’s hard not to when you’re imagining dialogue), but I’m not going mad, honest. In actual fact, it’s quite the opposite: as a writer, those walks are keeping me sane.