This week in Spain: writing from the road and other cures for writer’s block

Writing from the road can be a challenge or a source of inspiration. I find it to be a bit of both.

This week we have headed north to escape Seville’s summer heat. I’ll probably write more about summer travels when I get home but in the meantime here are a few thoughts on how travel can inspire your writing.

Travel to be inspired

There is nothing quite like travel to bring on a good story. I won’t claim to have the definitive solution to writer’s block but getting out from behind your desk (or wherever your usual writing nook is), can do wonders for your writing. I have found that even a short walk down the street can get the creative juices flowing and help you find words to fill the empty page.

As you can see, you don’t need to go far nor spend a fortune to be inspired.

However, going somewhere new is one of the best ways to get your brain thinking about something other than writing. Travel allows you to explore and experience places, cultures, situations and feelings that will later be great source material for your writerly projects. Funny anecdotes or travel mishaps also make up a great pool for writing and story material.

You don’t need to go far nor spend a fortune to be inspired.

Over the past few days I have been riding the metro more than I ever do at home and it has given me some new ideas for my WIP*. It has also brought up a few problems my MC** would encounter and I now need to work on ways to solve them in my writing. Had I not stopped to analyze these aspects from the real world I may have found myself writing something that didn’t make sense.

Location, characters, plot.

These three elements are vital for any story. Whether writing fiction or nonfiction you still need to establish where something occurs, to whom it happens and what actually went on.

Travel is a perfect way to get ideas for all of them.

Setting

When we pack our bags and head to a new destination we are exposed to plenty of settings we might otherwise not have thought to write about. Before yesterday’s walk along the seaside I may not have thought to write a story set, say, at a beach resort, as living in Seville means I don’t have the sea in my immediate surroundings and it is therefore harder (for me at least) to want to make it the setting for my writing. I simply think of other places first.

Needless to say, it is possible to write about something without experiencing it before hand, but travel may show you new locations you had never considered before. I guess that goes for new experiences in general, not just travel. Either way, just get out there and explore!

Characters

Some good old-fashioned people-watching in the local neighborhood is my favourite way to get inspiration for a new character. As with settings, travel enhances the possibilities. Meeting new people, discovering a different way to do life in another corner of the planet or learning about a person’s specific achievements in a town you are visiting could inspire the main character for your next project or spice up one in your WIP.

Plot

As I mentioned before, travel can be the provider of many funny stories and mishaps or misadventures make for some good storytelling. You can use some of your experiences to kick start your story or you could spin them around with a what if… and see where it goes from there.

Writing from the road

Travel is a great source of inspiration for my writing but I frequently wait until I get home before I put it down in words. I often find it hard to make time to write as I go and sometimes experiences are too fresh or too raw to write about right away.

3 exercises to bust writers block

To finish up for today, here are three ideas to get you writing again, whether you are currently travelling or at home.

1. Take a walk. If you are at home, wander around the neighborhood, if you are travelling, explore your destination. Take a notebook with you or use the notes on your phone. Make a list of 5 interesting or different things going on . Then pick one and write about it.

2. People watch. Again, this is one you can do from anywhere. Pick a busy public place, a shopping centre, a bus, a coffee shop… Write a character outline based on someone you see or add a few characteristics form several people together to form your new character.

3. Write about a meaningful moment. What was a great or a terrible moment from you last or current trip? Write about it for 5 minutes.

I hope this helps you beat writers block, for a few more pages at least. Leave me a comment and let me know how you get on!

*WIP: Work in progress

**MC: Main character


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