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Strolling the French Way

French couple taking a stoll
A Stroll by the Seine, Paris by Henri Victor Lesur Public Domain

You have been cooped up in your writing room, hopefully for hours, in a state of flow. Or maybe not, maybe you have stared at the screen or paper not knowing what to scribble. Or maybe you need some inspiration, some window shopping for ideas. Take a stroll with me down memory lane on the French word flâneur.

A flâneur, or a “man-about-town” according to Miriam-Webster, was coined in 1854, during the reign of Napoleon III’s rebuilding of Paris. Eric Maisel, in A Writer’s Paris, writes it is a “French invention of strolling as an art form.”

Many of my haiku ideas were conceived strolling the beach in my neighborhood. Pegging the changing colors of the Pacific from day to day, like a kindergartner changing the weather chart, clears my head and rolls any stress off my back. Strolling sets my mind mulling over what I have written or read, and/or opens my eyes to the details around me.

Writing is an interior exercise, but strolling becomes an external exercise. We see our natural history roll right before our feet. Just as the ocean changes daily, observing your environment intimately will enlighten our routine stroll. It grounds us in the reality of our physical bodies and physical, concrete world—perhaps giving us ideas for metaphorical writing. For the introverts, and most of us writers are introverts, it is a way of blending in without interacting too much with others, so we can think and plan and observe sans cell phones.

Now you are ready to write those ideas down to start the process of flow. The wind of the Holy Spirit flowing through your mind with ideas to flow onto the screen or paper. He can supply the ideas, and we supply the unique expression of those ideas. We co-create.

It is through him that we are able to live, to do what we do, and to be who we are. As your own poets have said, ‘We all come from him.’ Acts 17:28 ERV

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