A few days ago I wrote a post about writing and running. Since then I've been staying in Laguna Beach
and running the canyon. Okay, I run down and walk back up, but then so does nearly everyone else. It is a looong way back up. Yesterday as I hit the last and steepest hill I ran into a man named George who proceeded to tell me about Kangen water, which helped make the hill climb a lot easier. (He dropped off some of the water for me to try later, and that was pretty cool, too.)
Water and interesting men aside, I have had Thoughts as I continue this new-found activity. Thoughts which relate to writing.
My biggest Thought concerns the difference between writing and walking. Besides speed, the main difference to me is that when I run I'm totally in my body. I'm focusing on keeping myself going, on breathing, maybe on that pain in my ankle, on making it to the next street or up the next hill. When I walk, my mind roams free. I ponder writing problems, and, alarmingly often, obsess about what I'm going to do first when I return from my walk.
Over the years of my walking career, I've often noticed the difference between passing another walker and passing a runner. Another walker always makes eye contact and greets me (at least in Portland, where we tend to be inordinately friendly). But the runners always run on by. I assumed this was an inbred snottiness about runners, but now I understand. Runners don't say hi because they are in the body, not quite so focused on the surroundings.
How does this Thought relate to writing, you ask? Just as a runner stays in the body when running, a writer needs to stay in the body when writing. Its just that the body might be someone else's. The body could be the heroine of your novel or the person for whom you ghostwrite a book. In order to truly write from another point of view you need to deeply inhabit the body of your character. This is also true in the case of writing a personal essay or even an article. You must be in the body–your own body–in order to access the truths you wish to share in writing.
Some people get to this state by meditating. You might have other ways to reach it. Whatever path you choose, just remember that being in the body, deeply inhabiting the essence of yourself or your character, is the state you need to write from.