I’ve had an incredible, adventurous, and exhausting time this past month exploring South Korea and Hong Kong. (Shout-out to every single cityscape in Seoul: the views were gorgeous.) To be honest, I haven’t done as much writing as I planned to accomplish during this trip. But there was potential writing inspiration in every photo I took, awareness of other customs I want to include in future works, and a general boost to my summer writing now that I’ve returned home.
Whether you’re flying halfway across the world, visiting the beach, or taking a road trip along the coast, I am a huge believer that all writers benefit from summer travels. All of my novels were inspired from past trips, and I know this past month’s study abroad program will probably result in Seoul being a future novel setting as well. Which brings us into the first point…
- Fresh story settings. There’s nothing like experiencing a place for the first time. While we may be familiar with our hometown, when you get used to a place for too long you forget to notice the little details. What are the scents in the local market? How do people greet each other? What famous structure does the city hall building remind you of? You never know, a new story setting could inspire a new plot.
- Take (lots of) pictures and keep them as writing prompts. My phone is currently filled with all kinds of random photos I snapped in Seoul – at cafes, with friends, of unique store window displays, and of course endless city skylines. What catches your eye while traveling will later invoke your imagination while writing. Every time my manuscript reaches that “soggy middle” stage or I feel a bit of writer’s block coming on, I look back to old vacation photos and feel inspired again.
- Notice local customs and remember to include them in your works. This point is related to the first one, and it’s especially relevant if you write fantasy or science fiction. Just as we forget to notice the little details of a setting, we may forget to notice the little details about local customs. South Korea possesses so many interesting customs that were foreign to me, such as bowing and pouring with two hands instead of one. Even though I thought I had already edited my science fiction story, I realized that I had forgotten to include unique societal customs in the story’s universe. Every story world should have its own set of behaviors and manners that seem foreign to another.
- “In order to write about life first you must live it.” The most important tip? Take a writing break every once in a while. Word count goals and daily writing rituals are a great practice on a normal schedule. But during vacation, time can go faster than we might like. Summer vacation should be a chance to create lasting memories and one-of-a-kind experiences that fuel our future writing. Enjoy the new places and don’t worry about missing a few writing days!
Have you traveled anywhere yet this summer? How has your summer vacation affected your writing?