Why do we try to write while held hostage…

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help writers. Today I discuss a New York Times Opinionator column by Carol Kaufmann.

I love to walk while I write. But before you envision me clutching a pen and notebook and stumbling down the street (with the same self-absorbed attitude displayed by those who text and walk) let me reassure you that I do all this writing “in my head.”

I recite to myself what I want to write, and remember it as best I can. While I seldom recall what I wanted to say word for word, the act of walking — and thinking about writing — helps me get started.

I’ve always thought this walking-while-writing system worked because it reduced my fear of the blank page. But Carol Kaufmann, author of Safari: A Photicular Book, doesn’t agree. She thinks it has to do with being outside.

In a thoughtful article headlined “Time to Write? Go Outside,” Kaufmann describes her own experience  writing on a dirt road in southern Kenya. Here was her most compelling argument:

Why do we try to write while held hostage by cookie-cutter offices, zapped by overhead fluorescence and pinged by electronic apps of varying degrees of annoyance? This, truly, is writing with only a partial mind, because our mind lies in too many different realms.

I’m lucky enough to be able to write with a beautiful view of the mountains and water from my office window. But I know I always feel more inspired when I’m walking, outside. Even when it’s raining. (As it usually is, in Vancouver.)

If you’ve never written outside, quick, try it now, before fall gets any deeper and it becomes too much colder.

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