I remember a conversation I once had with my husband which went something along the lines of: Me You know when you’re out walking and you’re making up stories in your head? Him No. Me, surprised Doesn’t everyone do that? Him No they don’t. Me Oh.
For me walking has always been an essential part of the writing process. It’s probably something to do with the blood moving round the body and sending fresh oxygen to the brain. It’s also the movement – not so strenuous it forces itself into your consciousness, but repetitive, step after step after step; it helps you to achieve something of a meditative state. Sometimes my thoughts are very inward, the walk purely a vehicle for the creative process. For these walks it’s best if the surroundings are unobtrusive, not too eye-catching, not worrying or disturbing in any way. But there’s another way of walking, when you go out with all your senses alert, absorbing everything around you and letting it become part of the creation.
All of my writing is grounded in place, even when I haven’t set out with that intention. More and more though, I am consciously starting with place. For my last novel, East Coast Road, I walked five hundred miles from Scotland to Cambridge as research for the story. For my PhD research I have been walking in woodlands, and finding inspiration for story amongst the trees.