Writerly Rant #39
by M.J. Moores, OCT. Author. Editor. Freelance Writer.
In an echo to last week’s rant, I must say that I agree with Mikael’s premise that in order to fuel our hearts and minds we writers need to get out and do things. However, for any struggling writer who dreams of publication, putting bread on the table and coffee in your mouth is often more critical than finding a way to travel afar for inspiration.
By all means though, if you have the money to be able to travel to new and fabulous places outside your country of residence – go for it! The experience is invaluable and it’s everything Mikael says it could be.
But what about those of us who are lucky to rub two dimes together in in our pocket as we wait for the next paycheck to arrive? Travel afar is a lofty dream that may never become a reality. But we’re still writers.
Is it possible to submersed yourself in the Adventures of Wanderlust on a bus?
A Break from Reality
You don’t necessarily need to travel 10 hours by plane to get away to let your batteries recharge. If you’re a city person, corner that long lost Uncle who has a cottage you remember visiting when you were 10 years old. Or take up that colleague’s offer to visit their country home over a long weekend. If you’re a country dweller, perhaps a trip to the city is exactly what you need. See which of your friends or family you can legitimately freeload off for the weekend and let someone take care of you for a change. Or you could research free cultural sites, glorious parks, famous streets, and civic events. Plan to spend your money on a simple (but not scary) lodging for one night and map your tour route by foot or bus.
If you want a new perspective or outlook, you don’t need to fly to Germany to get out of your comfort zone and learn how to communicate all over again. Have you ever spent a night in a hostel? Ever volunteered at a home for the sick or elderly? What about taught a free class for inner-city kids? If these are outside your everyday cocoon of life, trust me, you will need to find new ways to communicate and will take home with you meaningful experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime.
A Change in Scenery
Have you ever traveled across country? I took a Grey Hound bus from Toronto, Canada to Orlando, Florida when I was 12 years old – yes, my mother was with me. We drove through Detroit at night and had to wait there for 3 hours to catch our transfer that went the back route to all the truck stops via Jacksonville, Florida before finally dropping us off in Orlando. Let me tell you, that was one hell of a change of scenery and it only cost a hundred dollar ticket and my mother’s sanity 😉
Travel stories are all well and good, but have you ever noticed that people tend to listen more carefully when you describe something extraordinary they’ve never witnessed or have only ever seen on TV or read about? You don’t need to visit Italy to see the Vatican or other famous cathedral. If the grandeur of the past, stained-glass windows, or secrets of dead bodies (usually saints) buried under footings sounds interesting to you, then look up some local cathedrals and check them out. And it’s not just big churches that are a draw, national parks and the beauty of the land are just over that next hill. Ever hiked the Grand Canyon? Climbed the Rocky Mountains? Sat in a natural hot spring? Seen dolphins dance in the water? It’s there… all you have to do is find it.
Meeting New People
While it’s undeniably true that the people you would meet in another county across an ocean would give you nearly endless fodder for your writing consumption, you can accomplish the same thing by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. I love accents. As a Canadian I find the way I speak boring because it’s what I’m used to. When I was a child and teen, learning the idiosyncrasies of dialect was fascinating to me. If I were to travel for 10 hours by car in almost any direction, I would find myself immersed in a community of noticeably different dialect. Have you ever had a casual conversation with a Texan? A Southern Belle? A born and bred New Yorker? Not only how they talk, but what they find of interest to talk about will vary widely and leave you smiling ear to ear for the experience.
Time to Think
Sometimes all it takes is a yoga retreat or day-spa to release you from the grip of the everyday… the best is when you are able to combine these things with a writing retreat. Whether it’s camping in the woods or renting a sail boat and captain to take you out on the water for the day, it’s well within your means and your home town to find a new space that you can dedicate to yourself and your writing.
The idea of spending money on some of these thing may seem extravagant, but compared to a $1000+ air fare on a pricy trip new exotic new lands, saving a few hundred dollars to spend on yourself once a year will at the very least help keep you sane – the inspiration that comes with it is priceless. Whether you’re income allows you Wanderlust or Wander-bussed the message remains the same… shake up your routine and give yourself the chance to experience something new.
Happy trails to you 🙂