Did I already tell you that I am writing a book? A non-fiction memoir to be precise.
I have filled a fair share of notebooks since I started my creative writing for self-care journey in January 2019. Last year I decided that it is time to sift through these raw diamonds and to motivate myself I signed up for an intensive non-fiction writing workshop at the writer’s studio in Vienna between March and June 2022. Over the course of 4 months, I worked with a small group of fantastic women to transform our elusive book ideas into written words on the page. My book in its current draft has 5 chapters and back in June I more or less knew what I wanted to say and write in chapters 1-3. I had no clue whatsoever about chapters 4 and 5.
Fast forward 2 months of sabbatical and kids being on vacation. Chapters 4 and 5 are still as elusive as it was a couple of months ago.
But I have a plan. I leave the summer house at quarter past six in the morning by bike. An hour later I lock it around a tree next to the Kystsi, the coastal hiking trail around Bornholm.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Start walking. Just walk.
There comes the moment, the split second, when you’ll realize that you are rushing, that you are walking too fast. It took me 15 minutes this morning to get to that realization. It feels good to slow down.
Step 2: Look for a place to sit…
…take out your notebook and set the timer to 15 minutes. Go!
Today, the goal is not to get somewhere, but to write. The many slugs (I had to look up this word in English, I have never heard it before!) on my way here by bike reminded me of the time my cousin and I (we were 11- years old or so) caught 3 fish with our nets, carried them in a bucket of water to the local supermarket, and tried to sell them. There is a morale to that story that I think could fit nicely into chapter 4. Way to go!
Step 3: Start walking again…
…when the timer rings. This time set the timer to 30 minutes. Perhaps this time you notice more quickly if you are rushing. Slow down.
After 20 minutes I find a spot that I cannot resist. And I am thirsty; brain needs water.
Step 4: Set the timer to 15 minutes and enjoy writing what comes into your mind.
At the end of my 15 minutes, I have written five pages in my notebook and come up with new ideas for the flow of chapter 3 and its transition into chapter 4. Nice job!
Step 5: Off you go…
…for another 30-minute walking session.
27 minutes later I see this rock – mine to write on! I take off my shoes, they are full of sand from the trail passing right on the beach. On the beach there was a man with two small dogs.
“Good morning”, I said and he responded. Then he pointed at one of the dogs and said:
“She is afraid of the cold water. She is visiting from Greece.”
I laughed out loud and continued on the sandy path, my hiking boots full of sand.
Step 6: And here we go again…
…15 minutes of writing.
After the timer has gone off and I put my boots back on, one of them almost falls down the rock, I think of the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, which is inspirational in so many ways, not least for an aspiring memoir writer like myself.
Step 7: Timer to 30 minutes and continue walking.
After walking for a bit, I see the lighthouse of Svaneke in a distance. I recall the lovely coffee place called Syd-Øst For Paradis I had been with my family a few days earlier. I hope they are open this early! I decide to walk until I reach the place, which I do at minute 31. Honestly, I could not have planned this any better!
I decide to take a break from writing and to enjoy the view while eating breakfast. And to listen to the chatter and conversations around me.
Two minutes later I take my pen and write. I just cannot not write at this point.
My husband texts me while I am finishing up my thoughts. I now have a rough outline of the book chapter I wanted to work on. Who says mindfulness isn’t productive?!
Step 8: Continue alternating writing and walking in your rhythm.
Keep the 30-15 rhythm if it suits you.
I continue walking, now I have my notebook in hand as the thoughts are pouring in. I fall back into the 30-15 rhythm for another round. Next round I walk 15 minutes when I see this rock with the dove on. Mine! The clock is running. My family is almost ready to leave home. I already did 4 hours of my mindful walking and writing combo, but I just cannot get enough. I want to stay on this rhythm for longer; I love it! My writing muscle is definitely warmed up.
Raindrops hit my face. I note down a thought, put my jacket on and continue.
12.15 pm. I left the house 6 hours ago. 5 hours of walking and writing. 13.5 km are behind me. Next time I need to pack some chocolate. I am hungry.
At 1 pm my family picks me up by car. I walked 16.5 km. And most importantly: I have a notebook full of raw diamonds!
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