Walking and Creativity

”If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish.”

-Charles Dickens

In addition to his other achievements, Charles Dickens cultivated a rather splendid goatee. (AP Photo)

Charles Dickens was a man who got stuff done. “He edited a weekly journal for twenty years, wrote fifteen novels [weighty ones, at that!], five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, … and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights, education, and other social reforms,” sayeth Wikipedia.

According to Merrell Noden, in his 1988 Sports Illustrated article, “Frisky as the Dickens,” he also walked 20 miles a day.  Noden and others seems to believe there’s a correlation between Dickens’ walking and his prodigious literary output. Walking was both a way to engage with his subject matter, “the teeming urban landscapes” of which he so often wrote, and a necessary antidote to the psychic torment of sitting at his desk. I know the feeling.

I was reminded of Dickens yesterday when I read that Lise Meitner, a luminary of twentieth century physics (and the namesake of element 109, meitnerium), walked ten miles a day. Apparently perambulation is good for creativity of all kinds.

So… maybe we should all step away from these screens and go for a walk. Ready? Go.