Writing while traveling may seem like a good idea. You’ll capture the glories of your trip – a trip diary full of your great adventures! Then you arrive, and almost all of your attention is gulped up by the overwhelming stimulus that grabs your attention. How to write about all that you have seen, tasted, felt while traveling? Hint: don’t.
Writing on the skinny, on the lam, on the hoof, or on the road will improve your writing. You’ll hone your eye, refine your vocabulary and learn to be choosy in what you write. Less, with writing as other delights of life, is more.
Don’t try to write it all down. Instead, think brief as bikinis or skimpy dresses of summer. Become adept at note jotting, list taking, and capturing one brief sensation if a few words. Try these quick shot writing techniques that we’ll be using in Paris this fall on my Women Writer’s of Paris tour.
Return to the basics with unusual or new vocabulary from the place you are visiting. Write ten words for each letter of the alphabet from your surroundings. If you are visiting a foreign country, mix the foreign language with your own.
Face it, you cannot write it all down in the moment. Try lists. List ideas: meals, modes of transportation, people you’ve met, things you want or are inspired to, and random weird things.
Here’s a list from my trip to Santa Fe in April:
Stockings on St. John’s campus undergrads
Turquoise tile-covered vase
Pimped out cobalt blue low-rider, bouncing
Past la Fonda
Loretto Chapel, memory of reading a poem at friends’ wedding
Pink leather pants with red lace stockings
Nambé platters (Nambé galleries – the Nambé outlet!)
White bird on woman’s shoulder
Just reading this list gets me back to that weekend in Santa Fe more than a narrative in which I tried to capture everything.
See yesterday’s post.
It's so fun to eavesdrop. Capture snatches of dialogue.
Signs in other places can be interesting. Jot some down.
Writing from your character’s perspective
Perhaps you are engrossed in a story or novel and don’t want to piddle around with all this other stuff. Practice being in the world with your characters. What would your protagonist order at this restaurant? How would your antagonist deal with the upset at the hotel?