Saturday, August 8, 2015

Writing In Motion by Sarah Fox

The more years we spend writing, the more we learn about our own writing process, about what works well for us and what doesn't. A strategy that helps one writer might hinder another and there's no one right way to take a book from concept to completion. One discovery I've made while working on my novels is that movement helps my writing.

When drafting isn't going as well as I'd like, I have a tendency to simply sit and stare at my computer screen or to give in to the distraction of social media. But by getting up out of my chair and walking while I dictate my words, I find that I'm less distracted by the Internet, less likely to get hung up on my last sentence. In turn, the words flow more easily and I usually accomplish far more than I would have while sitting.

Of course, getting up and moving provides health benefits as well as benefits for my writing. As authors, it's easy to spend hours and hours sitting in front of our computers. For someone like me, who works at a computer for my day job as well, those hours can really add up. So getting to my feet and moving around is a good thing in more ways than one.

I’ve never actually tried typing while walking on a treadmill and I don’t know how good I’d be at it. However, since I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking to dictate my stories, I don’t have to worry about typing. Although I started out by trying to dictate my first drafts on a treadmill, I’ve since discovered that I do better simply pacing around my office, mostly because I have a tendency to stop walking when I need a moment to think. On the treadmill, that can be a tad perilous, so pacing while wearing a headset microphone works best for me.

Even though I know that my words flow better when I get up and walk around while I write, I don’t do it as often as I should. But I know the benefits and I’m going to make an effort to get up out of my chair more often and write while in motion (and yes, I’m on my feet right now).

Do you ever write while exercising/in motion? Does it work well for you?

Sarah Fox was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia where she developed a love for mysteries at a young age. When not writing novels or working as a legal writer, she is often reading her way through a stack of books or spending time outdoors with her English Springer Spaniel. Her debut cozy mystery, Dead Ringer, was released in June 2015 by HarperCollins. The first in the Music Lover’s Mystery Series, Dead Ringer features Midori Bishop, a professional violinist with a penchant for sleuthing.


  1. Hi, Sarah - Thanks for your very interesting post. It is a good reminder that we need to get up and move around frequently when writing--both for our brains and our bodies. I was particularly interested in your mention of Dragon software. I had never heard of this and was intrigued. I often wondered if I would do better dictating my writing (sounding more natural, etc.), but I didn't know how I could do that. Now I know. This is definitely something that I will pursue.

  2. I write standing up, so I can twitch, tap dance, and walk laps around the kitchen until the next thought comes. I plot and talk through a dialogue scene while walking the dog or weeding. I do sit to edit at the kitchen table. And I read finished drafts to the dog.

  3. This is very interesting. I've thought about trying out something like the Dragon software, but can I really manage to get through the inevitable frustration of trying to learn one more computer application?

    I swim laps a few times a week, and I often work on plots while I'm doing it.

  4. Hi Sarah, wonderful post and information. I am a bit of an exercise fanatic.Even after a full day at the day job (12 hours, yawn) and a few hours at my writing desk, I will head out in Florida's punishing heat for a job, run, or walk. Anything to get the blood circulating again. Writing and moving would be an ideal solution. I had tried Dragon years ago, and did not have the patience for training it. It may be time to give it a go again!

  5. Hi Sarah, welcome to WWK.

    When I hit a sticking point, I put the writing down, ask my subconscious to come up with a solution, and do something else. Later that day or perhaps the next I’ll take a long walk outside or go slogging (that would be slower than jogging). I bring up the issue and let my subconscious do a bit of brainstorming. Usually an answer arrives and I am back on track.

    ~ Jim

  6. Thanks for the comments! It's interesting to read about everyone's methods. I started using Dragon about 15 years ago and it didn't take me long to get used to dictating punctuation as well as words. It doesn't work perfectly (I always have to correct some recognition errors) but as long as I remember to speak clearly, it does quite well.

    There's something about getting up and moving that seems to get my thoughts moving too, whether I'm stuck on a sentence or a plot problem.


  7. I don't use my lap top for writing - only my desk computer. However, I walk every morning and often weed or mow or do other things. My afternoons are for writing, but even then I never sit for a long time without getting up and doing something else like throw a load of clothes in the washing machine, clean the litter boxes, run the sweeper, or something that has me up and moving around. Most of my advance plotting comes on my morning walks or at a night before I fall asleep. I seldom sit for long periods of time.