When I was on the Aldeburgh Eight Advanced Poetry Seminar at Bruisyard Hall last November with seven other poets, I was encouraged to go for a walk every morning at nine o’clock. When I say ‘encouraged’ I mean that the eight of us, in pairs, whatever the weather, were turfed out of the house for a thirty minute walk across fields and country lanes, talking about our poetry and/or our lives (we were given a topic to talk about but I seem to remember much meandering and deviation, literally and figuratively) then it was back to Bruisyard Hall for a quick coffee/loo break before we seated ourselves around an enormous dining table for a morning of workshops with Peter Sansom and Jackie Wills.
Stanford study finds walking improves creativity
Creative thinking improves while a person is walking and shortly thereafter,
I didn’t need to be persuaded about the benefits of a daily walk, it’s something I’ve long tried to incorporate into my routine although, I must admit, I don’t always manage it and, when I do, it’s almost never at the same time each day. But I won’t be the only person to have found that a knotted poem has unravelled itself during a gentle walk or an opening line has appeared in my head like a gift. Even if there wasn’t a study from Stanford University proving that walking improves creativity, I’d still be a fan of a daily ramble. It lifts my mood, helps me sleep better and I sometimes – often – see interesting sights.
Only the other day, while walking with my husband along the Kennet and Avon Canal, we spotted this hand-built lathe next to a narrowboat called ‘Blewit’.
I asked permission to take a photograph although I forgot to ask the names of the people living in the boat.
It seems ingenious to me, to be able to build something out of natural materials found alongside your home, and the bowls that the woodturner makes are beautiful.
I wouldn’t say finding a hand-built lathe gave me inspiration for a new poem but it did stop me in my tracks and make me realise that life doesn’t always need to be complicated. And it reminded me of how beautiful simplicity can be.
What, as a writer, can I learn from a hand-built lathe?
- to use the materials you find in front of you
- to keep working (even the smallest completed bowl takes several hours)
- you will make mistakes (which you might be able to turn them into something else)
- you might make something you like
- you might even be proud of it
- other people might find what you’ve made beautiful or useful or both
- other people might want what you’ve made
- other people might learn from what you’ve made
- other people might love what you’ve made
OK, I don’t think there’s quite enough material here to start a new philosophical movement but the point is I would never have seen the lathe at all, would I, if I hadn’t been out on a walk?
What are you thoughts? Are you a fan of walking? Do you find it helps your creativity? Is it part of your routine? And what kinds of sights do you come across on your walking journey? Have you ever built your own lathe? Do let me know!