This summer, my husband and I are moving to Stamford, Connecticut…very far away from New Orleans, but now we will have access to trains to New York and a whole coast that is just waiting to be explored by two southerners on a tight budget. My goal this summer is to write a novel about a girl from New Orleans who moves to…can you guess where? Connecticut! So, I am going to use this summer as a way to glean some valuable information for my next novel.
How to Use Traveling as Writing Material:
- Never be without a writing instrument and listen for stories.
“Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them.” Eudora Welty.
Like Eudora Welty says, listening for stories is more important than listening to them. Anyone can tell a story, but you can determine if they are worth remembering in your next novel. So, get a tiny moleskin and pen, tuck it in your pocket and jot down little flutters of conversation, words, or phrases that stick in your mind.
- Take pictures.
Traveling is your chance to take pictures of the little things that you couldn’t find on the Internet, those little nuggets of inspiration: a lighthouse or an old shed with a used bike. Anything that can spark your creative side and turn that detail into a story or just a point of reference.
- Read those plaques!
I beeline for those beautiful brown historic markers. My husband knows that if we are somewhere historical, it may take a while because each plaque must be read/skimmed! (Poor thing, he is so patient.) If it sparks your interest, take a picture of the plaque and what it is representing. It is vital to have those markers in your story to give it historical accuracy as well as a perfect visual for you to reference after you have returned home.
- Eat local food.
I know this one may seem kind of a “duh” point, but this is coming from the girl who would rather drink Starbucks in Paris than try the local brew, so it has to be said. (To be fair, I did try the local coffee in Italy and it blew my mind, but if it isn’t from Italy, I prefer Starbucks. I know, it’s terrible and I’m ashamed, but not ashamed enough to switch over to local brew.)
If you try the local food, you can get a taste of history (see what I did there haha). In New Orleans, you can try crawfish, shrimp and grits, jambalaya, gumbo and all that amazing food with delicious creole seasoning. How else will you know how to write about the food in your novel if you don’t know how it tastes? I suppose you could guess, but this is your chance to eat for research. I know my hubby won’t mind this one at all.
Photo cred: Unsplash.com