Traveling the world a little bit at a time can offer life experience that no amount of internet research can bring, because you are not only seeing the world, you’re getting the opportunity to taste, smell, touch, and live in the moment.
Good writing always puts the reader right into the moment, into the location, and life experience makes a writer more capable of describing the world in a way that the reader can almost experience it themselves. To do that, it’s important that you first experience life fully. And what better way to do that than through travel?
Photo by Francisco Martins (Creative Commons)
Step outside of your comfort zone, travel to places unseen, taste things you have never heard of, and stimulate all of your senses. It will come out in your writing when you live a full life. This might mean crossing some physical, political, and psychological borders, but the life experience gained will let you know that you truly lived and lusted for life.
Ways To Use Your Vacation To Improve Your Writing
- Step outside your comfort zone. Afraid of the woods? Try camping out. Afraid of heights? Take a mountain tour and enjoy the view and the adrenaline rush. Do not be afraid of a little fear, it means you are still alive. Go to a cemetery after dark, hold a non-venomous snake, chase away your fears and use the experience to describe them.
- Use all of your senses. Do not just drift through your vacation as an outsider, jump in there and experience the world around you. Taste new foods, even if you are squeamish. Touch things, pet the animals, feel the pebbles beneath your feet, notice the texture of the materials around you. Jump into cold water and feel it wash away the day, contrast it with the feeling of the desert sand on your skin. You need to experience things that stimulate your senses to really know a place well enough to write about it. This will cement the place into your memory and help you to include details in your writing. You should even smell things; this may sound gross, but scent is key to memories and it will awaken all of your senses. So smell the livestock, the food, the flora and fauna, even the city streets. Taste, smell, and touch everything and you may be surprised to discover that it adds layers to your writing.
- Look beneath the surface. Notice the world around you. Tourists are notorious for being superficial, so look beneath the surface. What is the history of the hotel you are staying at? Why is a particular color common in a certain area? Look out for details that most people may not notice and use your knowledge to add color to your own writing.
- Get to know the locals. Does your waiter walk with a limp? Find out why. Is there a story behind the couple that manages the inn you are staying at? Sure there is! Everyone has a story and each story will add to your own imagination and inspire your own tale. Remember that, and make it your mantra as you travel: Everyone Has a Story.
- Value your own perspective. No one else sees the world like you do. Even if your vacation is to a spot that many have been to before you, your perspective is different. Notice things only you would. Your own perspective is valuable, and reading some ones perspective on a place can be highly entertaining if it is not exactly the same as everyone.
Time is flying, and if you don’t get out there now, it may go by too fast, and all the places unseen, the words unwritten and experiences you did not have will haunt you. Allow new cultures to put their stamp on you, and in turn through your writing, you will put your own stamp on the interpretation of the place and people.
How has travel inspired your writing?
Write for fifteen minutes about a recent travel experience you’ve had, whether near or far.
When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please be sure to leave feedback for other writers.