I love the outdoors, even though it can be cold and wet where I live, which is in the foothills of Mount Rainier. (That’s probably why I enjoy traveling to deserts so much.) My idea of paradise is six hours of walking outside, preferably with a dog, and six hours of writing. I’ve been lucky enough to have some long weeks just like that, but whenever I need to come up with an idea or work through a problem — in a book or in life — there’s nothing better for me than taking a walk.
For one thing, you never know what you’ll see or find. Bits of life that I’ve seen while out walking finds its way into all of my books, sometimes in unexpected ways. The walking I’ve done in other countries — and my own — has influenced many places, characters, and plots in my books. This is what my hiking boots looked like before I wrote The Skeleton’s Knife, which is the third book of my Farwalker trilogy:
This is what they looked like once it was drafted:
In between, some of the places or things I saw that made it into the story ranged from fjords in Norway to sea coves and harbor villages in England to barbed wire — which became a villain!
But I don’t have to go so far to find stories on a walk. One of the characters in my current manuscript can tell the future from what he sees in the woods. So every day lately, when I run or walk my dogs, I’m busy looking for the future in leaves and branches and rocks.
You might not see the future when you’re walking outside, but you’re almost guaranteed to see bits of a story. So take a walk soon! Keep your eyes open. You never know when an idea might strike.
Joni Sensel has written a handful of fantasy adventures for young readers, including The Farwalker’s Quest, which tells the story of a girl who loves to walk as much as Joni does, but who does it with a kidnapper, a murderer, and a ghost. Learn more about Joni’s books and see more of her travel photos at www.jonisensel.com.