When I’m in a rut, creative or otherwise, the obvious solution usually seems to be: get out, go for a walk. A tie-on of the tennis shoes is definitely one of my pet magic tricks for conjuring up a page or two.

The time-tested strategy of a new perspective or a change of environment is more than a helpful piece of motivational advice. Research shows the “anticipation of a novel stimulus has been shown to enhance memory encoding for unexpected novel events.” Here, memory-building could easily translate into fodder for a creative impulse. And the novel event could be, dare I say, an actual novel! Or short story, poem, script, rock opera, who knows?!

Walking as meditation is an important tradition in Buddhism. Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s Walking Meditation emphasizes breath and intentionality in our steps. This immersive practice might aid in unlocking the right atmosphere for a eureka plot device moment or nugget of character development. Or, more simply, put us in the right mood to let a story reveal itself in waves instead of caffeinated, desk-bound jolts.

Your own walking meditation needn’t have a destination as lofty as enlightenment. Sure, it may, but a coffee-shop writing corner or a bench at the park is perfectly acceptable too. Here are some of my personal favorite walkaround locales for a writerly boost:

The Airport: This one is very topical since, as I’m writing this, I’m poised to embark upon a much-diverted airline journey of my own. While it might be less than ideal to have a cancelled flight or extended layover trap you in an airport terminal, it’s not the worst thing to happen to your notebook. Maybe the bellow of that boarding announcement for a red-eye bound for Phoenix is the desert setting in your percolating plotline. Or the squabbling couple in the corner may unwittingly send you a tasty dialogue tidbit for that short story you’re nursing.

The Grocery Store: Depending on your viewpoint, the walk around the supermarket could be a joyless chore or just the right ingredient for your writing project. It’s also a great option for those who have a little less give in their schedule. After all, we’ve all gotta eat, right? The sights, smells, and transactions in your jaunt around the store can ripen your process. From the products to the shoppers to the rattle and shake of a shopping cart, talk about novel sensory experiences! Why not stick a notepad in your reusable bag and see what happens?

The Dreaded Commute: Whether you walk, take public transit, or drive, the slog to and from the job can offer a bit of a creative respite if you game it right. Of course, a passive transportation experience like riding on the train might offer more time to scribble or scrawl. But even the walk to the car, or from the park-and-ride, could be a quick opportunity to notice your surroundings and clear out the mental clutter. What seasonal changes do you notice from day to day? Does your commute offer a chance for a detour like a stop at the gas station? Take a spare minute to make a voice note or two to come back to after you punch the clock.

A bonus selection of albums for your writerly walking playlist selected by yours truly:

For wistful reminisces to get your memoir flowing: Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, Blonde Redhead

For an energetic buzz to kick-start a plodding outline: Electricity, Ibibio Sound Machine

For rustling up some unconventional meter in a poem: Crazy Rhythms, the Feelies

For the calm before a brainstorm: Mother Earth’s Plantasia, Mort Garson

Just because the band name speaks for itself: Lost and Safe, the Books

Nicki Yowell is a lifelong enthusiast of all things print. She’s been writing ever since her childhood years at the helm of The Nicki News, a slightly factual personal periodical. Since acquiring her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism, she’s spent time freelance writing for a variety of publications. She also has been self-publishing her own zines for over a decade. When she’s not writing or working on creative projects, Nicki enjoys scouring the country for the best slice of pizza and adapting dinner recipes based on the contents of her fridge.