avatarDiana Leotta


Many Famous Creative People Including Bob Dylan Love to Walk to Spark Their Imagination

Could this work for you when you’re stuck?

Photo by Jonas Jaeken on Unsplash

Bob Dylan was seen meandering up and down the side streets off Ocean Avenue in Long Branch, N.J., one dark, stormy afternoon.

A resident considered him a vagrant and called the police.

A 24-year-old officer arrived and asked Bob for his ID. He didn’t have it on him, so she asked him his name. Bob Dylan, he responded, with no sign of recognition from Officer Kristie Buble.

She asked him what he was doing in Long Branch, and he replied that he was there for a concert. Still no realization of who he was. After all, this man was disheveled and rain-soaked and looked like a lost old man.

He was brought back to his hotel, where his manager vouched that he was, indeed, Bob Dylan.

He was roaming the streets looking for the house where Bruce Springsteen wrote Born to Run.

We’ll never know if Dylan ever did locate that house. What we do know, though, is he has often been known to walk to ignite his creative juices.

In another century

Ludwig Van Beethoven was another walker, often through the countryside while composing. It is well-known that he was inspired to create his Symphony №6 — the Pastoral Symphony because it evokes the landscapes he walked through.

Virginia Woolf, one of England’s most renowned writers, was an avid walker. She would recite her drafts while she was strolling.

The main character of Mrs.Dalloway, Clarissa, takes walks through London.

Ms. Woolf wrote in her journal:

To walk alone in London is the greatest rest.

Many have discovered inspiration or conceived a new plan while taking a stroll.

Getting lost in our thoughts while wending our way down country lanes or city streets is a booster for all forms of creativity — even designing the life of your dreams.

All truly great things are conceived by walking. — Friedrich Nietzche.

Albert Einstein was fond of sleeping (at least 10 hours nightly) and walking.

During his time at Princeton University, he walked a mile and a half round-trip daily while devising his theories on quantum mechanics — yet another form of creativity.

Henry David Thoreau walked around the woods along Walden Pond for four hours daily. He wrote:

Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.

Photo by Michael Elliott on Unsplash

In more recent times, Steve Jobs was another walker who strode to solve problems.

He often walked the streets of Palo Alto to exercise and clear his head. It was also commonplace for him to hold meetings while walking. He believed it kept everyone focused, effective, and creative.

Walking sparks creativity

According to a study by Stanford University, walking can increase creativity by an average of 60% and as high as 81% in some cases.

The researchers have found that “creative thinking improves while a person is walking and shortly thereafter.”

The study found that walking indoors or outdoors similarly boosted creative inspiration. The act of walking itself, and not the environment, was the main factor. Across the board, creativity levels were consistently and significantly higher for those walking compared to those sitting. — Co-authors Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz.

Though not famous, I, too, am a daily walker, and many ideas are born while strolling the neighborhood.

I often will get up from my computer and wander around the rooms in my home when stuck for a word or thought, and voila! Out of the ethers, the answer appears.

I love Austin Kleon’s book Keep Going. In it, he writes about his daily morning walks with his wife and two boys — rain or shine.

He has this to say:

Walking is a way to find possibility in your life when there doesn’t seem to be any left.

Give walking a go and see what you may create as a result.

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