Writers on the Go

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?  


Author: sue star

Sue Star writes mysteries about families in chaos. She is the author of the Nell Letterly series, about a single mom who teaches karate to support her teenage daughter. Sue also writes suspense with a touch of romance in exotic settings.

21 thoughts on “Writers on the Go”

  1. I love to travel and regret that I haven’t been doing much lately.

    Your post reminds me of an introduction from an M. M. Kaye book. She hadn’t begun her India series until years after she left India, but she had kept stacks of notebooks. When she sat down to write it was all there even the smoke of the train stations and the stained advertisements decorating the station walls.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Like Tom, most of my trips lately are writing-centric. And that’s true of this year, too. But that doesn’t mean I don’t squirrel bits of stuff away for future use. What I may or may not do is actually writing. It all depends on where I am in the cycle.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Welcome back! So glad you had a fabulous trip!!

    I love to travel (and adore cruising!) and although most of our getaways now involve a camp trailer, I find trips to be both inspirational and recharging. For me, they provide the “head space” to think through writing problems. Camping is especially helpful as it frees me from electronic distractions. (I don’t seem to possess the necessary amount of self-control.)

    I keep pining for a writers’ retreat on a cruise ship or abroad, but I think those will have to take place in my imagination. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I enjoy all kinds of trips and I treat them exactly like you do. I try to get all my words in before I leave, so I don’t feel guilty (plus, I can’t write in a hotel), and I use it all as one big learning experience. So much fun to eavesdrop on other travelers and on the natives of wherever I am. A friend of mine calls it “conversational shoplifting” … and I’m pretty good at it!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. As a reader, I “take a trip” whenever I read a book set in an exotic location or even just down the street. I like the geography to be such an integral part of the book that the story would be totally different if it were set somewhere else.

    And be forewarned, I have been know to pull up Google maps and follow the action right on my computer. I read everything from Archer Mayor for just that reason. I can find all the “landmarks’ on line, and during one particularity detailed sequence, I followed the characters across the railroad tracks, through the parking lot, past the trash dumpster (I was surprised that it was actually there) across a bridge, and into the parking lot of an abandoned warehouse. I loved it.

    So please, (tell the IRS it is necessary) keep taking those trips that inspire writing, because readers are waiting to find out what secrets you found in those locations.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Me too! I love to travel through books, and I always look for geographically related mysteries to read on my trips. I have a hard time finding cruise mysteries set in the Caribbean. Guess I’ll just have to write it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. LoML and I love to travel. Usually I plan on NOT writing, but a couple of times we’ve gone to Puerto Vallarta and while he and his buddies are out on the golf course, I’m either in the condo or planted somewhere quiet, writing away without the normal distractions of home.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Glad you had such a great trip!

    I love traveling, but sadly the last few years the only trips I’ve taken were to writing conventions. However, next week my husband and I are going to Vegas for a “real” vacation and I can’t wait! I’m on a self-imposed writing deadline, so I’m hoping the trip gives me plenty of inspiration.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Vegas is my secret hide-out. Of course it helps that son #1 lives (AND WORKS) there. You will have a great time, but it is cold in Vegas now. Son #1 reported snow last week. If you stay on the strip, buy the tram pass for easy travel. See Cirque du Soleil (any of them) if you can.


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