This is a guest post by Arliss Veldhuizen. Arliss Arliss is the Managing Editor of Trekbible, a blog which covers everything from travel intel and inspiration to destination guides and resort reviews, as well a social media editor at IncomeStore. She is also a writer and aspiring novelist. Arliss has family all over the world including the Ivory Coast, Denmark, Germany, and the Dominican Republic—a fact that greatly contributes to her passion for travel and culture.
Using Your Next Vacation for Writing Inspiration
We all hit a breaking point where our creative juices just aren’t flowing. Some like to call this unfortunate condition writer’s block. Whether you’re trying to write a novel or an academic paper for class, sometimes you just get stuck.
As the holiday season approaches, many people will be traveling to visit family and friends, or just to take a vacation break. Believe it or not, you can actually use your upcoming travels to overcome your writer’s block. And this isn’t just for the crazy adventurer who’s heading to the other side of the world for the holidays. That’s simply not realistic for most, and we get it: finding creative inspiration can be hard if you’re simply visiting the grandparents’. Hopefully, these tips will make it a breeze to spur on your imagination—no matter where you are.
Carry a notebook with you
Before leaving for your trip, go out and buy a small, pocket-sized notebook that you can keep in a bag (or a pocket). You’ll want to keep it by your side throughout the trip, along with a pen or pencil to jot down inspiration. Only use this notebook to write down bits of writing pieces or notes while you’re traveling. That way, you’ll remember exactly where you wrote everything down when you get home. Using whatever notes app your smartphone has is also a good tool, but these can be easier to forget once you get home. There’s just something about the experience of writing your thoughts out on paper that’s powerful for the memory.
If you feel an emotion, write it down.
This one might seem obvious, but some emotions aren’t as obvious to explore. But sometimes, it’s the subtler emotions that inspire the most creativity. Whenever you see something that brings you joy—even if it’s for a split second—write it down. No matter how small it may be, write it down. It could be as exquisite as a beautiful burnt, orange sunset taking over the sky that makes your jaw drop. Or, it could be something as simple as a dad wiping his child’s face after eating a painfully messy ice cream cone. Whatever evokes your emotion, good or bad, small or large, write it all down, from the trigger to the thoughts, to the feelings evoked.
Write without stopping.
One of the biggest mistakes we make as writers is stopping after writing every couple of sentences. Resist the urge! When you think of a great idea or feel inspired and begin to express it, write every last thought down before re-reading it. Stopping after every couple of sentences might cause you to lose your train of thought or to be too self-critical before you even finish it. Tweaking the wording and expounding upon your thoughts will come later! Don’t block your creative flow by attempting perfect sentences right away. As soon as you’re inspired, so is your creativity. So, here’s the rule of thumb: write now and revise later.
Take time to be alone every day.
Sometimes being completely alone is the best way to find writing inspiration. Take a couple hours a day with your journal in hand, and explore the streets of wherever you’re visiting. Pay attention to your surroundings, even the smallest of details. Feeling bold? Try exploring some of the local shops, or striking up a conversation with a local—about anything! After you have adventured a little while, escape to a quiet place and record all that you saw and felt. That way, you’ll reduce interruptions and distractions that might make you forget all you wanted to savor.
Take photos or videos of everything.
During your travels, you will, of course, want to live in the moment. Writing down everything you’re experiencing could get in the way. You don’t want it to end up feeling like a chore instead of an exciting new way to find inspiration. One way to avoid this is to simply capture moments via camera whenever you’re intrigued. An obvious twofold benefit of this tactic is you’ll have photos for a clear memory of your experience (and to share with friends and family)! But another bonus of this tip is that you can return to the photos later for writing inspiration.
So, no matter where your travels take you next, take advantage of them as a way to squash writer’s block and garner writing inspiration. In fact, you don’t even need to travel someplace new for this. If you’re not going anywhere far away anytime soon, these same tips can be applied just as well at your home base!
Get up out of your chair, experience life, and use it for your writing purposes. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what comes to mind!