Writing and walking. That has been my innovation for this week. I’ve actually done it before but I tried it again for the first time in ages and it went pretty well. It helped that this time I had a point to my writing. When I did this before I was just thinking on paper. I wasn’t writing anything specific. This time I was writing some pithy sayings for the T-Shirts in my “Message-Tee” comic. Well, with some more work they might be pithy. Maybe even witty.

I’m in the habit of going for daily walks. I’m not sure how far I walk for but it takes around half an hour. It gets me out of the house for a while and I like being outside in the open air. I even go for walks in the winter. It gets dark out before six o’clock then but I just grab a flashlight and put on a warm coat, gloves, a scarf, and a hat. I like to dress warmly. The flashlight is more so the cars can always see me but it also helps when there is snow on the sidewalk. Footing can be the biggest problem when walking in the winter.

Though summertime footing is easy I hadn’t thought of doing any writing while I walked before now because of the heat. It’s been a hot summer and when it’s 85-95ºF and humid out there I have to bring a bottle full of water with me while I walk. Even for a short half an hour walk I want to stay hydrated. Heat stroke is something I’m not interested in. This week it’s been in the low 80s and comfortable so my water bottle has stayed home. That freed up my hands for a notebook and pen. My tools of choice for writing while walking.

Usually when I walk I have headphones on and am listening to some music or the Stern show. Which one depends on what I’m in the mood for and sometimes I listen to one and then switch over to the other. I’m flexible. I’ve walked a few times with no headphones on because I wasn’t in the mood for that kind of noise in my ears but even on those few occasions by the time I was halfway into my walk I wished I had brought my iPod with me. Music can make life more pleasant.

On my walk-and-writes I left both the water and the iPod at home. The actual sequence of events was to walk for a little bit while thinking up a line and then stop and write it down. It’s not easy to write in a little notebook while standing. It’s only a sentence or two at a time that I’m writing down but often it’s sloppy. I try to be neat but sometimes my brain is ahead of my hands which are bouncing up and down as I try to hold the notebook still. But in the end I can read it.

I find myself liking to write with a Papermate Flair pen these days. I’ve like them for years but like them even better since they’ve improved them. That’s because they changed the barrel of the pen. It used to have ridges on it which I always hated. It’s a marker type writing pen and I always liked the way the ink flowed onto the paper but hated those ridges. They gave me the heebie-jeebies. Sometimes I would use black electrical tape to cover over the ridges but that was never the greatest solution. Now the new Flair pens have a smooth barrel. Much better. I can dig ‘em.

The problem with having to come up with pithy sayings for my “Message-Tee” comic is that I have to come up with a lot of them. I just finished twenty five drawings and I need one for each of them. That means I need at least two if not three for each drawing. I’d say it takes about three pithy sayings to get one good pithy saying. It’s tough to do short, breezy, funny, effortless looking writing.

I can remember learning that lesson back in my art school days. I was in a drawing class that was pretty standard. We were all learning to draw from still lives and the human figure but we had a little more looseness with our homework assignments. One guy, for his homework assignment, decided to do a drawing made up of writing in a notebook. He wasn’t making a picture made out of writing but was doing pretend writing in a notebook. It looked like writing but was really gibberish. It was an odd choice but I kinda liked it.

The student went on to say that he liked the look of the random writing-like marks in the notebook. The whole “Not trying to make a specific image” aspect of it also appealed to him. Being that this was a modern art school and not some old time art academy this idea didn’t throw our teacher at all. She wasn’t against the idea and she explained to him that making drawings from randomness wasn’t new but the key to it was making a lot of drawings. Artists who explore randomness will make a hundred drawings to start and and whittle it down to the best three to make finished works from. The student only had a couple of notebook page drawings so there wasn’t much else to say about it. I think he dropped out of the class a little later and I never saw him again. But I did learn his lesson.

The pithy sayings I’m writing are nowhere near random so I don’t need to make a hundred of them to get three good ones but I still need to do a few of them to get one good one. That’s the nature of comedy and is especially the nature of the rather odd comedy that I do. I can do weird and absurd rather easily but weird, absurd, and funny is a whole different ballgame. Weird can be disconnected but with funny you have to connect with the world. Getting the two to work together takes some doing.

I was able to come up with some stuff on my walk. I haven’t gone over it all yet but I think I was able to come up with about ten to twelve sayings on each of my two writing walks so far. That puts me nearly a third of the way there and I like that. I would have taken any progress since I hadn’t written any of these in half a year and that much time away from any creative endeavor always makes me wonder if I can get it started up again. It’s good to know I can.