How I Wrote 6000 Words in 6 Miles By Going on a Writing Walkabout

I couldn’t make it to Australia for a proper walkabout yesterday, but I was inspired to strike out on a new hiking trail while I dictated a few tricky final scenes for my NaNoWriMo novel The Clockwork Chatelaine (working title)a Scottish steampunk adventure.

I knew I had to finish this thing before the holidays so I treated myself to this walkabout as a deluxe (and free!) writing retreat of sorts!

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Why Am I Into This?

I’m trying to not sit or type too much. Roaming like this also helps my brain chug out more ideas, and I needed plenty of those to wrap this story up. I was really stuck on my ending but the walkabout did the trick. I love the ending I came up with!!

I was aiming for 10 miles and 10,000 words but had to scurry back early so I made it 6 miles and 6,000 words. I absolutely love writing this way! If you are curious about trying it yourself, check out my book The Productive Author’s Guide to Dictation (focused on fiction but also great for non-fiction writing) or my post: 13 Advantages to Dictating Your Novel.

The Productive Authors Guide to Dictation 45

Pics and Description of My Walkabout

I’ve gone on smaller daily writing walkabouts of 2 hours or less for a while now but this represents my longest one yet. To give you an idea of what a writing walkabout even is, here’s how I prepared and what it was like:

  • I outlined each scene I still needed to write as a OneNote note in my phone so I’d have prompts
Free Microsoft OneNote  App for Mobile Phones

Free Microsoft OneNote App for Mobile Phones

  • I told people my exact route and stuck to it, and also told them when to expect me back. Very important!
  • I wore warm winter layers so I could adapt to whatever came my way weather-wise. I love my SmartWool stuff for adventures like this.

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  •  I packed too much probably, but I feel like this is what made the walkabout more comfortable and fun! You might not be someone who packs a second pair of shoes, for example. I like to switch it up so my feet don’t get so tired!
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My Desk! Its contents fit on my back so I can ramble around. Like a snail, or a turtle.

  • I carried plenty of water (3 liters in my Camelback) partly because I get parched from being all loquacious. Cough drops helped, too.
  • I prepared an arsenal of snacks, snacks, snacks. My favorites: cream cheese jalapeno poppers (awesome cold, try it!), grapes, tons of cold cooked salmon, veggies, nuts, and fruit.
  • I packed biodegradable toilet paper. A writing walkaboutist should plan on doing their business in the wild.
  • Once I had all that squared away I commended myself to the great outdoors. I walked 3 or 4 hours while narrating my novel pretty much steadily. I sat down and rested several times but kept dictating during my rests.
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My Digital Recorder for Writing Walkabouts

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My dad found this mic/headphone headset at the thrift store and surprise! It works awesomely! Lucked out. I plug this into the digital recorder. Kinda fun to sometimes also plug in the headphone jack so I hear myself tell the story in stereo.

  • When it started to drag I put my novel’s playlist in one ear as I continued to dictate. This playlist is just a soundtrack of songs I’d use for each scene if I were filming it, a mood reference point for the vibe I’m trying to create in my novel.

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  • I let myself be inspired by nature’s whimsy, like these Seussian lovelies, whatever they are…

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The NaNoWriMo Finish Line

So now my NaNoWriMo draft is officially finished, coming in at 56,000 words. Most novels in my genre are closer to 80,000 but I tend to add quite a bit when I create my second draft.

I’m really happy with this first draft yet I’m even more happy to proverbially tie it with twine like Jo March did in the movie Little Women. Actually, maybe I do have some twine or something around here.

Why yes. Yes I do. It’s even plaid to celebrate the Scottishness of The Clockwork Chatelaine.

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Now’s the time for me to start some preserved lemons and take this manuscript back out when those are done in a couple months. Best of luck to everyone finishing NaNoWriMo!

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