Episode 37: The Traveling Writer

On April 6, 2019, Kasie and Rex took on the topic of traveling as a writer and how it can contribute to your storytelling and craft. Here are the show notes:

Introductions

Dr. Kasie Whitener, Clemson Road Creative, fiction writer

Rex Hurst, English Instructor, fiction writer

Theme for the day

The Traveling Writer

Agenda

  • Travel for Inspiration
  • Travel to break writer’s block
  • Travel to commune with other writers
woman walking on pathway while strolling luggage
Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com

Segment 1

Rex Hurst just got back from his honeymoon and we want to know what stories he found on the road. Traveling and writers have long been a pair.

There’s this blog World Nomads that tells stories about things people have discovered while traveling. It even categorizes them:

  • Discovery
  • Connection
  • Love
  • Fear
  • Transformation

Where does one go for Discovery? For connection? To find love? To experience fear?

Transformation is a harder “get” but it hasn’t stopped people from trying. We know people go to places like The Vatican and Mecca for spiritual transformation. I knew a woman who walked the El Camino to the Cathedral at Santiago. These kinds of treks, the Appalachian Trail, the South West Coast Path (through the UK), the Oregon Desert Trail, they offer the kind of long journey that requires endurance and allows for reflection and dedication.

Segment 2

I think road trips are the cure for Writer’s Block. Here’s an article where I argue that pretty effectively.

When we’re “blocked” it’s as if the stories that once flowed easily from our fingertips have stopped flowing, the voices have stopped speaking. Feeling blocked sometimes is part of the process. It’s a matter of getting to a point in a story or project where you have to make some choices.

Back when we talked about NaNoWriMo and the frenzy, I admitted to being addicted to the initial drive of a daily word count goal, uncovering a new story, building a new world. But there’s a common chasm, too. That 10,000 word block where what you have is substantial enough to be something but not substantial enough to be the thing.

Another common block is 50k. Now the novel is pretty well built, right? But maybe there are plot holes or characters aren’t developing the way you want it to and you’re stuck.

Now what?

The internet is full of advice on breaking through Writer’s Block.

Here are a few tricks:

  • Talk to an imaginary friend
  • Curse like a Sailor — get emotional
  • Use a different writing tool — get away from Word or whatever you’re using and try a different medium
  • Stop writing for your readers
  • Change your routine
  • Go to a bookstore and browse
  • Re-read your really good stuff

And, of course, travel.

Some more from Writer’s Digest:

  • Do something else creative
  • Move your body
  • Eliminate distractions

And then these:

  • Find music to write to
  • Work on a different project
  • Think of what you plan to write right before you fall asleep so you can wake up with it
  • Change the time you’re writing

And, of course, change your place.

What is it about place that can trigger a new creativity? What are we seeing, hearing, smelling differently that makes us want to write?

Segment 3

Lastly, there’s traveling to be with other writers. Kind of a “we’re in this thing together” or “feed each other’s creative vibe” thing.

Here’s this list of writer’s retreats and this other one, too. Everything from a weekend in a cabin with other memorists to a castle in Scotland. Sweeping landscapes like Iceland and Colorado Springs, and quiet mountain cabins in Northeast Georgia, Tennessee, and Southern Virginia. Some are crazy expensive like Viking Cruises with faculty and others are low-cost or DIY.

We’ve talked about writers’ conferences before. And gave some definitions around conferences, retreats, workshops, and other events.

We have a half-day workshop coming up on April 27th, we’ll be promoting it all month and interviewing the authors and presenters who will be there as well. It’s called The Business of Writing and tickets are on sale now.

Two panels: Marketing Yourself and Your Work and Choosing Your Path to Publishing. Two short-lessons: query writing 101 and the Twitterverse explained. And then some games and prizes and suchness as well. Should be great. The Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center on Lincoln Street, April 27th at 9 a.m. and done by 12.

In the fall, the SCWA will host its own Writers’ Retreat. Stay tuned for details. We know at this point only that it will be in Beaufort on the first weekend of November.

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