Marcia Strykowski

Walking for Writers

We’ve all heard we have to “get into the chair” to accomplish our work. We’ve also all heard we have to “walk 10,000 steps” to stay healthy. ‘They’ say that sitting is the new smoking—yikes. Since there are only so many hours in a day, how can we possibly achieve this on a daily basis?

I’ll be the first to admit there’s no way I can squeeze in 10,000 steps, on vacation, easy, but every day, no way. BUT, I can do less, 7,000 if I push it. And I think getting up out of the chair frequently is just as important. This is not as easy as it sounds. Especially if there’s a deadline looming, whether real or self-imposed. 

I’m finding if I plan on taking a long walk, it looms over me. I’ll tell myself just one more paragraph, just one social media comment. But, if I break it up into several short walks (which in the long run is healthier than all at once anyway), it seems much easier to accomplish. And I often come back with new insight on whatever writing problem I may have been trying to tackle.

Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and nothing too much. Ralph Waldo Emerson

If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health. Hippocrates

It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable. Socrates

We do not stop exercising because we grow old – we grow old because we stop exercising. Kenneth Cooper

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. John F. Kennedy

Some of us have tried setting a timer to get ourselves writing, maybe we need to do it all day long—thirty minutes in the chair, thirty minutes out, etc.

What do you think? Do you have any tips on getting your work done AND keeping fit at the same time?

70 Comments

  1. My little wooden timer shaped like an egg is my best friend. Without it, I get into The Zone of a project and easily lose track of time, sitting far too long. I’m fortunate to be able to walk to everything I need, even the library. So here’s to the ‘dinggg!’ Thanks for this post, Marcia – love your photos!

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    • Great, sounds like you’re in a perfect location for walking, Pierr!

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  2. LA

    I live in a city and don’t drive. You would be amazed at how quickly the steps add up…

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    • I don’t live in walking distance to anything of importance. Some nice country roads but nowhere I can go on errands. I’ll have to try adding on more steps. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • LA

        I know there are treadmill desk sort of things. Personally I could never work on one, but you have to wonder

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  3. Interesting, well done

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  4. Joyce Ray

    Important points here, Marcia. I do set a timer for 30 minutes in the chair. After that, I need to move just for hip health. When I’m motivated (not often enough!) I get in the car and walk 2 miles on the treadmill at Planet Fitness. Our home is on a state highway, so it;s dangerous to walk with snowbanks. Summer is my best walking time. Maybe someone reading this has a computer setup with a treadmill. I’ve seen them.

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    • I’ve seen those treadmill setups, too, a great idea. During winter I sometimes just walk indoor laps around my house, but they don’t add up to much exercise. Every 30 minutes seems like a good length of time between stretches.

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  5. Writing advice includes reading. Take your listening device with you as you walk to use audible books. You can listen to mentor texts, debuts, bestsellers, and books in your genre. My latest BOT (CD) in the car is ” The London Eye Mystery” about a 12 year old Asperger’s young who uses his self-described “different wiring” to find his missing cousin in London.

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    • Great idea! I love listening to audio books during my commute to work. The London Eye Mystery sounds interesting. I just finished The Boston Girl.

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      • Of course, I meant young man. I love his own voice as he narrates the story. I am sorry to say the author Siobhan Down died young.

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  6. And here I was not feeling like going to the gym because I’m too tired. I have to have a routine. I write at certain hours of the day and I try to go to the gym at the same time. I suffer from Planter’s Fasciatis so walking doesn’t work so well for me. I do like the cardiac machines, however.

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    • Routines can be helpful and good for you, going to the gym. I’m glad you’re able to get good exercise despite not walking much.

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  7. I roll out of bed, put on yesterday’s clothes, and walk two miles. The first two steps happen before my brain can stop this habit of 23 years. I know I should get up from the computer frequently, but I don’t. I hope someone will suggest the magic cure for that.

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    • Wow, that’s great, 23 years of two miles every morning. And I know you have a beautiful area to take walks. I get a lot of sales/spam calls on my home phone. Rather than grumble every time I get up to answer the phone, I figure it’s a good thing, gets me out of my chair. 🙂

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  8. I think I’m an active person, but there is no way I can comfortably fit 10,000 steps into a regular day. I do reach 10,000 when I go for a walk/run, but most other days, no. I also don’t like to carry my phone around with me everywhere I go to keep track. That in itself seems unhealthy! If I’m wearing something to work with a good pocket, though, I will slip my phone in it to keep track of how much I walk around at the library – that can add a lot of steps to my day! I do think getting up and walking a bit on a regular basis throughout the day is a very good way to avoid too much sitting and also clear your head. Great post!

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    • I have a tiny pedometer I stick in my pocket. I move around a lot at my library, too. When I’m upstairs working in reference, I often pop back downstairs to put away a few books or whatever other excuse I need to break up the time. I still have an old flip phone, but usually I don’t have it with me, so no apps, etc. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Came this way via a tweet by Book Club Mom. Wonderful article. I’m a big proponent of fitness and exercise and the incredible benefits they have on our physical, mental, and emotional health. Great quotes you found too.

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    • Thanks for checking out the post, Carrie (and thanks to Book Club Mom for tweeting 🙂 ). I will have to get into a better exercise routine, as it sounds like you have!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Bobbi

    What a great inspiring post. Thank you!!!

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  11. Joyce A Teal

    I easily walk 8,000+ steps a day often exceeding that. I do a lot of walking at work which helps but I do dedicate at least 30 minutes a day of active walking. I wear a fit bit which counts my steps and serves as my watch. It vibrates at 10 minutes before the hour if you haven’t walked 250 steps in the last hour. Additionally, the website lets me see how many steps I walked each day, hours I slept, and I can enter what I have eaten and how much water I drink each day. It’s great to look back 3 or 6 months ago and see how much I have improved!
    I love to read and really prefer a real book over audio books. I also love to write!! There are lots of free apps that will record “voice to text” on my phone then send it to my computer. As I walk, I talk my writing, it is recorded, and when I get back to my computer it is all written out! Certainly, it needs to be edited, but I can talk faster than I can type so I actually get more writing done! I also take solo road trips or just driving 2 hours to see my grandson. My voice to text app allows me to write the entire time I am driving! It will also play back what I have recorded. A real win-win!
    For those of you who have refused to give up your flip phones because you feel a smartphone is beyond you whether it is technology or cost that holds you back, you are missing out on so much. My phone is 3 years old, purchased used as it was already a year old. Cost $275 and included several chargers. My phone service is with Straight Talk (you can get it at Walmart) and costs me $48 a month for unlimited talk, text, data, and messaging including taxes and is a “no contract” provider. I live in Chattanooga, TN and traveled to mid-Florida and up into the state of Maine without a loss of service. I can also use my phone as a wi-fi hotspot for my laptop if necessary. Take the leap and embrace the technology to exercise, read, and write! Now, Marcia, I will get off my soapbox!!

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    • Wonderful ideas, Joyce, thank you! I would have responded sooner, but we had a blizzard here and are just getting back our power and internet. It seems everyone I know has a Fitbit, but I didn’t know about the 10 minute vibration reminder, sounds great. I love the idea of writing out loud while walking, too. I’m getting inspired to get more steps in each day! 🙂

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  12. Write standing up at a high desk. I don’t do this all the time, but try to do it some of the time.

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    • Another great idea. My desk isn’t too high, but I do like to stand up every once in a while when just reading a screen or watching a webcast. Thanks, Catherine!

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  13. Being around nature is the best form of relaxation, Socrates and Hippocrates say it all!

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  14. I know some people have treadmill desks but I haven’t tried that yet. 🙂

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    • Yes, I wonder how often they are in motion or if they pause every once in a while. Must be a great way to add on steps, although it’s hard for me to imagine typing at the same time.

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  15. This is so good, Marcia. On my most active day, I can get in 8,000 – 9,000 steps. Usually I’m at 6,000. Sigh! It is sooo hard when there’s much to write. Getting up frequently is really the best thing to do. Now, as soon as this giant snowstorm gets out of here I can walk. I’ll get my steps in when I snow blow with my hubby this afternoon. Best to you, Marcia.

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    • We had the giant snowstorm here, too, lost power for 12 hours. But it’s back, yay! 6000 sounds pretty good to me. I’m often just over 4000, so I’m going to make 6000 my new daily goal with hopefully plenty of higher days thrown in. Good luck clearing out, spring is coming!

      Liked by 1 person

      • All cleared out at last. I didn’t come close to 6,000 today but I figure the snowblowing and shoveling did the trick. Thank goodness we didn’t loose power! Looking forward to the Jane Yolen day on Sunday at the Eric Carle Museum. 🙂

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  16. Like a previous commenter I have a Fitbit. I find my days vary enormously – the target set is to get 10000 steps 5 days out of 7 and I don’t always manage that, but at least it prompts me to try. I hope spring will make it easier because at the moment there’s no incentive to go out for a walk just for the sake of it.

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  17. A got a dog. Problem solved. She won’t let me sit for too long until she bugs me to go for a walk. The best thing I ever did. Plus she’s great company and I love her to bits!

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  18. clarehelenwelsh

    Friday is ‘Welly Walking’ day! I’m taking my class to the Common today. It will be about an hour walk, some steep hills, which will be a feat for some of them since they’re only 4 and 5yrs old. It’s always the best part of their week though 🙂

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    • Oh, that sounds like a wonderful event. What a great tradition to give them the joy of fresh air and exercise. Enjoy your walk, Clare!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Ashley

    This is very inspiring and comes at just the right time. I’m going to walk more now!!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Bette Norton

    I have enjoyed this post and your pictures are great! I am guilty of sitting way too long during the day with reading and being on the computer etc. My husband and I do walk almost every day around a park nearby. On days we do not go there I go on the treadmill, but I still need to
    take more breaks around the house during the day. I get caught up with so many activities that involve sitting down and lose sense of time. Your post is a good reminder to me to work on being more active during the day! Thank you! 🙂

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    • Glad to hear I inspired you to get up. With a foot of snow outside, I’ve been sitting way too much today, too. Time for us to both take walks!

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  21. Intriguing post Marcia– a little out of your normal realm! And– loved your feet photos!! What a clever way to illustrate walking! I started doing yoga 2x a week last fall– it’s at the Senior’s Center so it’s do-able!!! And like it a lot. Meet a friend there so it keeps me accountable. And I just walk early the other mornings. If I wait for my day to start, it’s too easy for me to put it off! But I don’t have snow to contend with– I think cold would make it really tempting to stay in!!! Good reminder –thanks!!

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    • Hi, Rhonda! That’s great that you attend yoga classes twice a week and take walks in between. Keep it up! 🙂

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  22. My name is Benson Berchamans and I have completed a book after 6 months it will be in the scripted in the form of a drama. Iam a poor man and there is no opportunity in front of me to publish the respected book of mine. Can you plz help me to publish my book. This is my email address. plz help me to spread out my message to the world may the good God bless you

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    • Hi Benson, I’m sorry, but I’m not a publisher and won’t be able to help you. Have you attempted to find a critique group or a publishing company to whom you can submit your work? Thanks for stopping by and best of luck with your project!

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      • Thank you If you don’t mind can you please help me to reach Penguin Random House publishers or can you plz introduce one of the employee who is in touch with the respected book publishing company. Sorry for bothering you Marcia. Can you plz help me

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        • Sorry, I know nothing about Penquin Random House. You have to contact publishers through their websites and then hope for the best, like the rest of us authors have to do. We all get many rejection letters and there’s no easy way around it.

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      • Thank you

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  23. My tip is, get a dog! My ‘storyhounds’ never let me off the daily walk – and that’s quite often when I get my best ideas.
    Thanks for following us!

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  24. Great post and so important, Marcia. I am so sedentary that I started getting worried. For Christmas, I got one of those step-counters and found out I was walking UNDER 1000 steps a day. Ugh. I set a modest goal of 5,000 steps and I’ve stuck with it, even surpassed it now and then. I break it into chunks between writing and blogging, and I feel like I’m saving my life. Thanks for the wonderful encouragement. 🙂

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    • Thanks for weighing in, Diana. I’m the same way and can hardly find time to get enough steps in. Sticking to at least 5000 steps a day is wonderful, good for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. My stay-fit tip is to swim. I find that I can figure out a plot with greater ease and clarity if I do my thinking in the water.

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    • Swimming does seem like a relaxing way to plot. Thanks for sharing your tip, Margaret!

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  26. I am so glad I read this tonight. I HAVE to get back to my routine of daily walking and just haven’t done it. But short walks throughout the day are doable. Will start tomorrow!

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    • Oh, good for you. Yes, short walks are more manageable for me, too. And I try to make extra trips across the room, park far from the door, etc. it all adds up. Happy walking!

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  27. I find it quite difficult to sit in a chair for long periods. I keep getting up for the toilet or tea or to answer the door. I do agree we are far to sedentary and need to exercise more for good health.

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    • Those little interruptions to our day all add up. When you think about long ago, people didn’t have as many reasons to sit for hours on end. It’s good we’re all realizing the need for exercise. Thanks!

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  28. I take my dog out three or four times a day, doing a half an hour walk every time and by the end of the week, I can feel the back of my legs, they feel tight. I don’t think I could do 10, 000 steps. thank you for sharing.

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    • That’s great, Gemma. If you’re walking for a total of two hours a day, sounds like you might already be up to 10,000 steps. I notice it in the back of my legs, too. Thanks for weighing in!

      Liked by 1 person

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