How does vacation–or any type of travel for that matter–impact your writing life? Chances are, if you’re like me, that it can be a challenge to maintain any sort of routine. And to be honest sometimes it’s good to take a break from that routine–if you’re confident you’ll be able to to pick it back up upon returning home. Another challenge is how to balance your typical writing with the journaling or note-taking you may want to do to record memories and moments from the trip. With that in mind, let’s spend some time this week working on travel-writing skills. That way, when you travel next time you’ll have an easier time observing details, taking notice of seemingly small yet important moments, and ultimately letting the words flow on the page. And with that, here’s the exercise:
Every day this week, observe something in your neighborhood or life as though you were traveling and seeing or experiencing it from the eyes of a visitor. What are the sights and sounds of the place (maybe it’s your backyard or your neighborhood park) or the event (it could be a trip to the market or a playdate with your friends) that capture its essence? What do you need to put into words in order to bring you back to this time and place when you reread your writing in the future? Consider each of the five senses. Notice the who, what, where, when, and why. Observe the thoughts running through your head–those that are related, and the seemingly random ones that that are popping up. Jot notes as they come to you, and then when you return to your computer, write a few paragraphs about your experience.
Did you enjoy the Daily Writer’s Fix from a few weeks ago when we encouraged you to go digging in your beloved writing books? We’re doing it again this week!
Do you ever read through books about writing and dog-ear the pages with writing exercises, telling yourself you’ll go back to them soon and actually complete them? If so, do you return to them? This week is when you will. Each day this week, work through an exercise in one of your favorite writing books. If you have a vast collection of books, try one exercise in a book, then move on to the next book. Or if you have a particularly inspiring book, work solely with that one’s exercises. Finally, if one exercise particularly speaks to you, consider repeating that one with different topics or themes each day. Finally, if you have a particular favorite among the exercises, make a note of it and return to it whenever your writing or idea-generating needs a boost.
How to use Daily Writersâ€™ Fix
If photography is painting with light, then writing is painting with words. Write a long paragraph today–about anything–being as descriptive as possible.
Take your character on a boat ride. While you’re at it, feel the breeze on your skin, listen to the sounds of the engine and the water, and smell the briny air. Write exactly what your character experiences and the significance of each of those sensations.
Where does this staircase lead? What does your character hear as he climbs? Silence? A raucous party?
Today, take one of your favorite scents–it could be an herb or perhaps a perfume or your favorite food–and write about it not mentioning the way it smells, but through the lens of touch instead.
Practice dialogue today by taking a couple of characters and placing them at a table together for drinks or dinner and seeing what happens.
If you’re anything like me, you read books about writing and think to yourself while writing the exercises, that’s a good one–I should do it. But the problem is, we turn the page to read the next chapter and then forget about the exercise that promised to yield some fantastic prose.
Well, this is the week to change that. In place of our usual writing prompts, I want to encourage you to pull your writing books off the shelves this week and choose one exercise to complete each day. It doesn’t matter necessarily which ones you choose, just that you force yourself to take the leap from reading about writing to actually doing it.
While you’re doing it, leave a note here and let us know what writing books inspire you most! Some of our current favorites are Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Dianne Jacob’s Will Write for Food.