creativity and cycling

“It sounds like some form of meditation, and in a way it is. Performing a familiar task, like driving a car or riding a bicycle, puts one into a zone that is not too deep or involving.

The activity is repetitive, mechanical, and it distracts and occupies the conscious mind, or at least part of it, in a way that is just engaging enough but not too much – it doesn’t cause you to be caught off guard.

It facilities a state of mind that allows some but not too much of the unconscious to bubble up. As someone who believes that much of the source of his work and creativity is to be gleaned from those bubbles, it’s a reliable place to find that connection.” – David Byrne Bicycle Diaries



I agree with Mr. Byrne.  Certain tasks allow me to occupy my conscious mind partially so that my unconscious can simmer and come up with good ideas, solutions, and creations (Maya Angelou said that she used to play solitaire to keep her ‘little mind’ busy while her big mind worked).

Cooking, folding laundry, gardening – all these work for me.

And riding my bicycle with my dog too, of course.






65 thoughts on “creativity and cycling

    • I can see how mowing the lawn would work well for this, going up and down the lawn methodically, yes.

      Baffi, my dog, and I both thank you for the compliment 🙂

    • Walking on trails is great for my creativity as well, Christy. The mind is taken in by all the beauty around, the trees, the leaves, the birds and deep down ideas are churning… It’s a bit hot right now for bike riding (the added weight of the dog means I prefer biking when it’s not 90 degrees out!).

      • Awww yes the heat makes me tired! You’re so right about being inspired by nature while walking the trails. I love seeing the occasional squirrel in a tree or hearing a woodpecker. Have a great weekend ahead 🙂

  1. For me it is painting, reading and walking. Now I want a bike, I don’t have one.
    Your dog is so cute, I wonder if my dog would stay inside the Basket, he is a Yorkie.

    • It’s funny how many people are mentioning walking. I agree with that one. One of the reasons we like walking our dogs so much perhaps. I’m sure your dog would love bike riding. Just keep him on a leash (which you hold in one of your hands, it’s not too hard) because when my dog was very young she once tried to jump out when she saw a chipmunk. She loves bike riding, but hunting even more! She’s now older so isn’t tempted anymore.

    • Baffi loves biking, the wind in her fur, I can almost hear her saying “faster, faster!” as I peddle away furiously.
      Always wonderful to hear from you Sheila. Hope you had a lovely summer too!

  2. I love bubble too, except when they pop. Great post, Letizia. Since my mind wanders with almost any task I could list a boatload of them. Fishing in the ocean opens my mind to what’s on the other side.

    • I’ve heard people say this about fishing – that it’s very meditative and therefore can open up your mind, free it up. I like that you naturally let your mind wander – a sign of a creative soul.

  3. Ah… David Byrne, a very interesting man. I remember seeing him performing live with Talking Heads. Great band!
    Beautiful bike you got, Baffi must be a very happy dog.

    • How lucky to have seen him perform live! I think you would like this book if you haven’t already read it because he talks about taking his bike on tour with him and cycling in cities all over the world.
      I’ve had my bicycle forever – bought it secondhand in Paris- I love it!

  4. So cute! My mom used to bike with a terrier of hers. Walking that’s my ticket, you know. Sometimes I can play with my imagination during other tasks, but usually I listen to music, because I’m not fond of housework sorts of activities. Well, I like to cook, but I listen to music then too.

    • Walking is high on the list. I like to listen to music when I cook as well (a little dancing thrown into the mix is always fun too; not necessarily conducive to creative ideas but a good time).

      I like to hear that your mother used to bike with her terrier as well!

  5. Oh, the bike has always been my great escape from the modern world. A couple of months I can not ride my bike because I’m with a combatiento cancer treatment, but is shortly to be mounted and leave again, makes your lyrics are very nice and reading your post gives me energy.
    Nice your dog, love dogs and horses, good luck and congratulations on your post.
    Cruz del Sur
    From a faraway place I greet you.

  6. Oh, shut it with that little furball in the bike basket!!! Beyond cute. I must say that my mind doesn’t wander at all on my bike, because it can’t. I have to be fully alert as a bike commuter in the city. If I were on a pretty paved trail in the countryside, I’d be cool though.

    Folding laundry, doing dishes, and showering/bathing are my zone out times. Those particular chores and getting myself clean take forever because I’m often writing a scene in my head! : )

    • So true! I do the dishes, make the bed etc and then wonder why a couple of hours have gone by! My mind has been elsewhere; plotting blogs, thinking about stuff to research, imagining what it must be like to be Baffi on a bike….. But when it comes to Solitaire, I am no Maya Angelou. I need my whole brain attention on that.

      • It’s so true, Gallivanta – we suddenly ‘come to’, ‘wake up’ from our semi-conscious activity, realizing we have so many new ideas. I love when that happens and quickly rise to find a piece of paper to jot everything down before I forget.

        “imagining what it must be like to be Baffi on a bike” – heehee!

    • Britt, Little fur ball in the basket – haha, that made me smile!

      I rode my bike in the city for years and I remember the need to concentrate well – no time to let the unconscious simmer there.

      But there’s something to folding laundry and getting one’s house and oneself clean, isn’t there? The conscious works methodically but also tidies up, perhaps that allows for the wonderful mess of creativity.

  7. That’s so true! I always feel like I come with all sorts of random ideas when I’m doing the dishes or folding the laundry. 🙂

    Also, my goodness your dog is so adorable!

    • I wish it happened every time we did the dishes or the laundry, but, alas, it only seems to happen from time to time. It’s still good when it does though.

      Baffi thanks you for the compliment. She thinks she’s pretty adorable too!

    • Yes, riding the bus! That’s a good one, Andrea. And that reminds me that riding the train always inspires me as well. Watching the landscape go by puts us in a trance of sorts. We just have to be careful not to miss our stop…

  8. Great post and great comments! Still in the Scottish Highlands but have found WIFI. Our minds have enormous capacity for creative and profound thinking. I have found that we limit this ability by filling our days with busy work which does not allow our thoughts to flow freely.

    Have a wonderful weekend. We will be winging our way home. But a part of my heart will remain in the Highlands.

    • I loved visiting the Highlands and I understand what you mean. It stays with you and in your heart. I hope to go back one day. I have no doubt that it has inspired you and set that creative mind of yours thinking and dreaming.

  9. Riding my bike and ironing are two for me. But I have to say my mind is more on the to do list or problem solving than being creative. That just comes to me in spurts and at any time. Great post, Letizia.

    • I agree, Lynne. These tasks don’t always generate creative ideas for me either, but when they do, it’s like a little gift. Sometimes, when I’m stuck creatively, such a task, will get the creative energy working again. And to top it off, the ironing gets done!

  10. Oh what a lovely photo, your sweet little dog looks so happy and cosy! This is all so true Letizia. I find just the same when walking, lost in thought and often listening to music on my iPod helps me re-energise with ideas. Yet I never listen to music when I’m writing. I need the silence! But there’s a lot to be said for these so-called mundane activities, letting the mind clear itself so that the creative juices can take over. Not always, but it does work a lot of the time 🙂

    • I can’t listen to music when I write either, Sherri. But walking in nature or certain chores does seem to encourage interesting ideas to surface from time to time. But, like you say, it doesn’t always happen! Hope you had a wonderful August 🙂

      • Not always, but I do also find that peeling vegetables helps too quite often for some strange reason!
        It’s been a good month thanks Letizia, I hope for you too 🙂

  11. Great picture! Nice to get glimpses of your ‘real life’ Letizia. Running does it for me – or at least on the days I run alone, not with a group. I also recall, many years ago, doing some temporary factory work – does anyone else remember factories? For a week or so I was given a repetitive task – tightening screws or something. The days passed in a flash as my mind was 95% elsewhere somewhere far more interesting.

    • I would imagine factory work would be quite conducive for creative thought (at least initially. After a few hours, the fatigue and monotony of the work might set in). The repetitiveness of the task, as you point out, is just what the ‘little mind’ needs to allow the ‘big mind’ to work its miracles!

  12. It pleases me that you have found something that allows your subconscious to pour forth…although not physically which also pleases me…i think I would get into a sulk if either your brain melted a bit, or you were less of a writer. I shall make more of an effort with my laundry in future.

    • An oozing subconscious is never a good thing, I agree, haha! Let me know if your mind wanders next time you do your laundry and you come up with a great blog idea or short story idea.

  13. I can just imagine you tooling around on your bicycle with your dog in the basket! Alas, my dog is too big to fit in a basket. But we do like to take long walks together, and I have worked out some great story ideas that way. I also get what I like to call “shower thoughts” — story problems that work themselves out under the steamy spray of the shower. 🙂

    • I like the image of a big dog in a bike basket even if the reality is an impossibility 🙂

      A couple of people have mentioned the shower as being a moment of creative inspiration. The ritual and cleansing effect, I think, comes into play.

  14. Have you ever been driving somewhere, so caught up in your thoughts, that you arrive at your destination without really recalling how you got there? That’s a scary kind of auto-pilot. Thank goodness for the little mind.

    • Automatic-pilot is kind of scary, I agree, Tom. It’s normally on drives I know so well that I don’t need to focus on what turns to make so my mind wanders happily. But upon arrival, I’m thankful it was a safe journey. Thank goodness for the little mind indeed! Hope you had a good August and that you have a creative September.

    • Thanks, Baffi is a cutie, isn’t she?

      Driving is a good one – at once lulling us into automatic pilot at times, at once keeping us one our toes. All those people and landscapes going by us, entering our subconscious.

  15. Absolutely. Taking a shower is a big one for me. I love to zone in the hot water. Doing dishes, gardening, and vacuuming are other tasks that don’t require me to “think”.

    Your dog is a cutie!

  16. Wonderful post and Baffi is so cute.

    We love walking daily and biking few times in summer. I “study” my country thru my lens. Now when retired I have finally time to explore it. Also I love edit my videos.

    My wife creative hobbies You know – beading, quilting knitting etc.

    • I like the way you phrase that – studying your country through your lens. And it’s true. I love visiting your blog and seeing your beautiful photographs. I’m sure that as you walk and travel, you are thinking about how and when to take a photograph.

      And I always admire your wife’s crafts – she is gifted!

      Hope you had a good August!

  17. So cute! My dog would stay in a basket. I do some of my best problem-solving when I take a walk. And sometimes sentences and words come to me. I try to remember them until I get home. It makes me walk faster. 🙂

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