- Charles Dickens
December 2020: Following in Dickens footsteps.
The Reason: We don't want to "explode and perish." We do want to be invigorated and look the "personification of energy."
The Commitment: Walk far and fast for a minimum of 1 hour daily. Maybe we'll build our way up to 3...
Many writers go for walks, but none more famously than Charles Dickens. In his collection of essays, Uncommon Traveller, Dickens wrote as way of introduction, "I am both a town traveller and a country traveller, and am always on the road."
Always on the road is far from exaggeration. Dickens would walk for three to four hours a day and sometimes he would, in bouts of insomnia, roam the streets of London all night. Dickens made walking a routine claiming to be "searching for some pictures I wanted to build upon.”
These outings to expand the detail of his stories achieved just that. In Charles Dickens: A Critical Study (1906), G.K. Chesterton writes, "Herein is the whole secret of that eerie realism with which Dickens could always vitalize some dark or dull corner of London. There are details in the Dickens descriptions — a window, or a railing, or the keyhole of a door — which he endows with demoniac life. The things seem more actual than things really are. Indeed, that degree of realism does not exist in reality: it is the unbearable realism of a dream. And this kind of realism can only be gained by walking dreamily in a place; it cannot be gained by walking observantly."
Not only did these extensive walks improve upon the realism and depth of the world and characters Dickens created, but his brother-in-law recalls that after Dickens returned from these walks “he looked the personification of energy, which seemed to ooze from every pore as from some hidden reservoir.”
This month we will follow in his footsteps. We will walk for an hour each day, hoping to gain some of the same pleasures Dickens benefited from as he meandered his way in and out of London and through the country side of England.
- Writers of Bel Esprit
Early Bird Catches the Word, November 2020, Post-Experiment Thoughts:
Will continue as best I can. After waking up and writing for three hours each morning, I was stunned by how much I got done so quickly. Previously and often times, it would take me a bit of time and energy to clear my mind and get into my writing. Just after a few days into this routine, I found it easier with each passing day to sit and fall right into my work. I don't think 7 days a week works for me, but if I can continue this habit each weekday morning I will consider the day a success.