One of the advantages of retiring from the day job is that now I get to take lots more trips than I used to. Some of them are even “real” vacations, like the Caribbean cruise Hubby and I took last week. It was fabulous! It was our great escape from our long winter months, and it was our chance to decompress in deck chairs and decadence.
And then there are trips. Unlike “real” vacations, trips have a specific purpose, such as:
- business trips (I’m the trailing spouse)
- visiting family (we have to check up on the kiddos on a regular basis, right?)
- miscellaneous missions (e.g., driving the granddog across country last July)
Whatever you call it–trips or vacations–they require a lot of hours away from my desk.
While I may be retired from the day job, I’m NOT retired from writing. I have a schedule to keep and deadlines to meet. It’s a challenge to keep up with the words while on the go. So, I use trips to focus on other writerly tasks.
- trips create deadlines for me. When I plan my yearly calendar, I know that I have X amount of writing tasks to accomplish before the next trip, if I am to stay on schedule. Miss that deadline, and it throws everything out of whack for the rest of the year.
- trips are great opportunities for character studies. New places are full of people who are outside our usual circles. I listen to their tone of voice, their word choices and patterns of speech. Sometimes I meet real people doing some of the jobs I read about, like detectives from Scotland and agents from law enforcement–they have wonderful stories to tell!
- trips engage sensory details. Different places have different smells, sounds, etc. I try to notice what my characters would notice in such a setting and how it might be described.
- trips fire the imagination. New places come with new-to-me stories. Sometimes a tiny detail, most unexpected, will catch my attention and won’t let go. Then starts “what if…?” When that happens, I can’t wait to get back to my desk and discover the story!
Do trips inspire you, too?