Inspiration for Creative Writing While Traveling

As a writer who’s often trying to keep herself on track for stories, poetry, and whatever novel might be in the cooker, inspiring yourself to write while you’re traveling is sometimes hard.  But if you’re always traveling, then you’re never writing…and then you can’t really call yourself a writer anymore, can you?

It’s easy enough to write in your journal about your thoughts or what you did that day or even some introspective navel-gazing (“The rest of the world is exactly the same…we are all one.”) but sometimes writing fiction can be difficult; after all, if they tell you to “write what you know” (which they do, in fact, tell you), it’s pretty hard to write anything but “stranger from out of town comes, sees interesting things” stories.  So how do you get and stay inspired while traveling?

  • Just do it.  Avoid Nike’s products if you can, but appropriate their logo and make it your own: if you think “I don’t have any ideas” or “I don’t know where to start”, just start.  Sit down and write some pages.  They will be bad, probably.  Just write.  writing is what makes you a writer.  Not thinking up ideas; anyone can do that.  But only the dedicated will get them out of their heads and down on paper.
  • Turn your travel diaries into a novel.  While publishers are glutted with true-life travel tales (with not enough money or shelf space to spend on any of them), why not take what happens to you and let it be a jumping-off point for a totally different story?  The bonus to doing this? You can make anything happen, even if it didn’t happen that way in real-life.  A novel has a beginning, middle, and end, so you can get the satisfaction and fulfillment you want in your life: just write them in!
  • Join a distance writing group.  Or a local one.  Thanks to the miracle of the internet, you don’t need to be on the same continent as your writing pals to kvetch about each other’s verb tenses.  Instead, gather some writing buddies and have a once-biweekly (or whatever) check-in; everyone has to write a short item, and submit it to the others — you can use email, yahoogroups, Facebook, or whatever works best.  Then, you critique.  Criticism keeps you editing, and the deadline keeps you writing.
  • Carry an inspirational book with you.  I like SARK for jumpstarting creativity and Madeleine L’Engle for pocket-sized books that inspire me to ever write that well.  Carry one book with you that you’ll never leave in a hostel or donate to a library because it’s just too precious.  
  • Cut out your internet time, instant message time, texting time, and any other timewasting time.  If you’re serious about writing, you’ll do it.  My ex-husband once said, “Creative artists are people who do what they do because they CAN’T do anything else.”  You’re traveling because you couldn’t bear to stay still.  But writing doesn’t have to go on the backburner because of that.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | June 16, 2009
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind

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