Writing is serious business. I think we can all agree on that. Sure, there are times when the words flow from your mind to your fingers (to the keyboard to the screen) like water effortlessly flowing downstream. However, I am sure that we all have had our fair share of moments when writing feels like pulling out teeth. Without anesthesia.
The good thing is that oftentimes, the experience of writing is somewhere in between those two extremes. While not exactly exciting or glamorous, that middle ground gets the job done.
The danger then is for writers to get stuck in a rut and not go out of our way to become better. That is a very real possibility, and if we do not actively seek ways to improve, we might just stay in that rut for an unnecessarily long period of time.
What to do? Different people will have different approaches, but one thing works for me: traveling.
I have found that travel can help you in more ways than one and that it can actually help you on your way to becoming a better writer. I’d like to share a few things that I have learned from traveling and how it can contribute to becoming a better writer.
Travel helps you step away from routine.
Routine. That’s one of those silent killers. No matter what your field may be, it can be easy to fall into a routine that does not nurture creativity. Writing is no exception. Routine may be comfortable, but it can also lead into becoming a boring, predictable writer.
If you find your writing lacking that spark, maybe it’s time to take a step back and break up your routine. What better way to that than to take a trip somewhere? It doesn’t have to be a long trip. The destination doesn’t have to be the other side of the world.
I think that the important thing is that you give yourself a break, and stop doing what you do day in and day out. It does wonders for your writing afterward!
Travel can make you miss writing.
I love to write. I can write all day and night if I am really into the project. There comes a point, however, when I just feel that I could throw up from all that writing. Maybe routine has something to do with it as well, but whatever the reason, there are times when I want a break.
Again, that’s where a nice trip comes into the picture. The last trip I went on, I totally set aside writing. Believe it or not, I made a conscious choice NOT to work. I have to admit that after the initial adjustment of not working, I thoroughly enjoyed not doing any writing for work for the duration of the trip. Toward the end of the trip, though, I already had that undeniable feeling that I was missing writing. The trip had given me fresh zeal for my work!
Travel can give you new experiences and inspiration.
This might very well be one of the most practical things traveling can do for writers. When you visit a new place, whether it is in the same country or not, you will have new experiences. You will deal with strangers and even make new friends. If you are visiting a totally different culture, you will have even broader experiences.
These experiences can help you become a better writer in many ways. You might get a fresh perspective on life. For example, if you go to a less developed country, you will definitely see how differently people live, and how many of them are happy in spite of their economic standing.
Additionally, encounters with beauty always become sources of inspiration for writers.1 Not that you cannot find beauty in your backyard if you look for it. It’s just that when you are on a trip, your mind seems to be more receptive to those encounters. The result? Sources of inspiration that can get you a long, long way.
How about you? What have you learned from your travels that can be applied to writing?
Paul is a freelance writer who has spent the last two years discovering Asia. Next on his list of countries is Thailand, where he will learn Thai in Bangkok at the Language Express School.
Image via Mikey Bean
- The same can be said of “ugly”, by the way. [↩]