4. Mind-body balance is key.

Of course, legendary writers didn’t always stay inside. On a tour, I learned that Louisa May Alcott liked to run (a rare pastime for a woman in the late 1800s) near her home in Concord, Mass., which helped her find the energy to write Little Women. A cousin said she was “the most beautiful girl runner I ever saw” and that Alcott liked to climb trees and jump fences; people even say she once walked from Concord to Boston for a party.

Robinson Jeffers split his day by writing poetry in the morning and gathering boulders from the nearby beach in Carmel, Calif., in the afternoon (he used them to build a house for his family). You can visit the home today, as well as the stone tower he erected in the backyard. Walking through the solid little house, which has stood for nearly 100 years, you can imagine how the physical work fed into Jeffers’ morning poetry. Like many writers, he understood the connection between the moving body and the thinking mind. Even just a walk through the neighborhood can invigorate writing in unexpected ways.

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