The Rhythm of Running – The Rhythm of Ideas

Prolific British author Ian McEwan must be following my blog. I happened upon a McEwan video in which he talks about the process he uses to conceive ideas and get inspiration for his many novels. The fascinating thing about his process is that it is similar to my experience with running and writing. In fact, I’d written about some of the same concepts in my blog. Check it out:


Floating ideas for my blog.

        McEwan does a lot of hiking and says that the rhythm of walking is very amenable to the rhythm of ideas. I agree completely. Hiking, jogging, cycling, running–any physical activity will release endorphins that stimulate ideas. Not long ago the header on my blog read, “Ideas Appear While on the Run.” And then there is also The Running and Writing Connection, which describes this same relationship.

        McEwan says he leaves space between books, meaning he consciously disengages from writing his novels and travels, attends conferences or any number of other activities to get ideas and inspiration. I’d written about the different ways runners can access their energy, including concerts, athletic events and the outdoors.

        And then the author talks about forcing an idea. He makes the point that forcing an idea gives him the freedom to experiment with a paragraph or more with no obligation to finish. That can be liberating. Earlier this year I wrote The Magic of Running to encourage runners who lack motivation on any particular day to commit to one mile or ten minutes, and let the rest take care of itself. Most times, a one-mile run turns into two, and so on, and so on.

So, do I really think that Ian McEwan is following my blog? As much as I’d like to think he is, it’s not likely. Nevertheless, it’s an idea that came to mind while I was out for a run.

Watch the entire three-minute video of Ian McEwan here:


About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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4 Responses to The Rhythm of Running – The Rhythm of Ideas

  1. rick thomas says:

    If you polled one hundred writers who are active, you will likely find we all share this. Some of the greatest ideas I have ever come up with have come to me while out riding my bike or running. It truly is incredible! There was only one occurrence where I lost an idea during a run, and could not for the life of me remember what it was. Good stuff, I enjoy all your posts.


    • Jim Brennan says:

      Thank you. Ever since I posted The Running and Writing Connection earlier this year, I find myself wandering between the running and writing themes. It’s just too hard to keep the ideas from flowing while perspiring.


  2. My problem isn’t getting the ideas flowing during my run (I do that) … My problem is remembering those ideas in mile 8, that were so clear to me in mile 2! True story.

    Good read sir.


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