Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Writing fiction is like hiking. Once you agree with me on this point, your writing will improve. So will your hiking.
One of the many benefits of both writing and hiking is they are less expensive and dangerous hobbies than skiing, hang gliding, and repelling off of cliffs. Studies have shown that writing increases gratitude, awareness, rational thinking, problem-solving skills, and even helps prevent Alzheimer’s.
But back to the main point. Just how is writing fiction like hiking?
Both writing and hiking cause us to face something bigger than ourselves and beat it. Everyone needs more examples of this in our lives.
What are the best hikes, you ask? Here are my all-time favorites. They can be yours, too.
Grand Canyon. It’s strenuous, requires training, and is mildly dangerous (exciting). Twelve people a year die in the Grand Canyon. Imagine walking nearly a mile straight down into the ground to get to a place that looks like Mordor from The Lord of the Rings. Wild game close by watches you because no hunting is allowed in the park. You try telling a horned elk five times your weight to get off a cliff-side trail so you can pass. I’ve been there when it is 110 Fahrenheit with sunbaked cliffs overhead pounding down extra heat, and when it's so cold we can’t stop walking no matter how tired we are so we won’t freeze.
Mt. Humphreys. The highest point in the state of Arizona at 12,633 ft. It’s surreal to be above the tree line where lungs don’t work well and where Earth-life has said, We're out of here! The peak is actually part of a circular ring of ridges left over from an extinct volcano. All I could think about up there was, "What would happen to me if the mountain blew up again?"
Timpanogos, north of Provo, Utah. The prettiest hike I’ve ever been on (well, tied with Half Dome). And the longest, providing scenes like those from the finale of The Sound of Music. Wild mountain goats along the way wonder what strange creatures we are.
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park. It’s an eight-mile ascent of 4,800 feet culminating at the base of a thirty-story granite stairway followed by a 400-foot, 45-degree incline up solid rock using cables. Twenty people have died ascending the side of Half Dome over the years. If a thunderstorm appears while you’re up there, the cables you hold to keep from falling to your death become high-power lines. Maybe hiking isn’t so safe after all.
After God created the Garden of Eden, He created the Yosemite valley. Then He created everything else.
Take a good camera because the hike provides the most striking views you'll ever experience.
What’s this got to do with writing? Everything.
It's knowing that if you don’t give up, you will accomplish great feats.
So why not embed the rich knowledge you gain from hiking into the description, mood, and scene of your stories. You’ll be more physically fit and you'll outlive your critics. That will show them.