Walking for Ideas and Creativity

April 1, 2016

When I first sat down to write today’s blog I was stuck—SHOCK, HORROR! Not the dreaded writer’s block, exactly, I just didn’t really have anything to write about. I’ve got several projects on the go and have been making decent progress on all of them (finally stamped out a nasty bug plaguing a new animation system I’m coding). However, none of the progress I’ve made recently felt like it would make for a good blog post. So what did I do? I went for a walk.

Aside from being good exercise, walking gets you out from behind the computer screen and into a change of scenery. Going for a short twenty or thirty minute walk is a great way of clearing the mental cobwebs. When I have an especially tricky design or coding problem that I just can’t seem to get past, I’ve found going for a walk and not really thinking about anything in particular always helps to get me unstuck again.

As I was out walking today, I actually thought of several suitable topics for the blog. It was halfway through my walk that I realized the walk itself should be at the top of the list. After all, it’s going for walks, or doing other things unrelated to a problem that you’re working on, that yield those eureka moments.

My theory goes something like this. When I’m out walking and not really thinking about whatever problem I’m facing, that problem goes to the back of my mind, hiding out in the subconscious, which continues to hammer away on it. Since there’s a lot of random crap floating around in the subconscious, weird connections that I ordinarily wouldn’t make can form there. Eventually the subconscious mind comes up and figuratively taps the conscious mind on the shoulder, bringing along a complete solution with it. The result: eureka!

So the next time you’re stuck on a problem, my advice to you is go for a walk. Just be sure if it’s the winter or raining to dress appropriately. Until next time, I’ve got another problem I’m working on, so I’m off to the footpaths again.