GET A FREE BOOKGet a free book

How travel inspires my writing

A trip to Spain and France this summer replenished my creative well.

I’ve written before about how travel was the catalyst for my Miramonde Series. From the settings to the characters to the central theme about shining a spotlight on forgotten women artists, the books were inspired by my travels through Europe in 2011-12.

Recharging my creative battery

Fast forward seven years, and my creative well was starting to run dry. Lots of authors say they have a zillion ideas for books and just lack the time to write them all. That’s not my problem. Just finishing my trilogy took a lot of creative juice. I kept wondering when the new ideas would come.

During a trip to Canada in March, I had a few days of rest and relaxation with my husband on the seashore. I read voraciously, walked on remote beaches, ignored the news, and felt my creative well miraculously recharge. The muse noticed. One day I had an “aha moment” and came up with a spine-tingling idea for a new series. I also renewed my commitment to finishing the Miramonde Series with a bang.

Inspiration comes from doing less

This is something I’ve noticed in my life: my creativity is sparked by doing less. When I have fewer worries, fewer distractions, fewer to-do lists, and—crucially—enough sleep, my brain is free to come up with new ideas. And these ideas never come when I’m trying to dream them up. Oh, no. They arrive randomly, seemingly out of nowhere. But that “nowhere” is the product of rest, relaxation, and new experiences. All things I typically only get during vacations.

One of the favorite by-products of travel for me is the creativity triggered by new settings and people. I find myself imagining the daily lives of the people around me, their relationships, their communities, their rituals. I love shopping in grocery stores when I travel to a new place. It’s fascinating to see what the shelves are stocked with, how everything is displayed, which items are most popular, even how the locals queue up and check out. These are things I never notice at home, because I’m immersed in my own daily rituals, going about my business on autopilot.

The benefits of travel

Last month I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks traveling in Spain and France with various members of my family. It was a logistically challenging trip sparked by one child’s language immersion program in a French city. None of us were all in the same place at the same time, and we did some convoluted journeys to get people where they needed to go. I ended up driving far too many miles in our rented Fiat Panda. The European heat wave was in full force.  I wouldn’t call it a vacation as much as a travel experience, but it was unforgettable and exciting. And I got loads of inspiration for my new series.

Now I’m immersed in the final push to get A Place in the World (Book 3, the Miramonde Series) launched. Occasionally, I glance at the pile of precious research materials I amassed on the trip. I remember the bliss of wandering St. Jean de Luz’s little alleyways, the joy of experiencing the monastery of San Juan de la Peña in person for the first time. I relive the hikes we did on the wild Galician coast, I retrace the steps we took through the medieval streets of Santiago de Compostela and Burgos. And I get a thrill of anticipation, imagining the joy of designing and outlining my next book series.

That’s the beauty of travel. It opens up my mind to so much, to lovely, interesting people, to places I’ve always wanted to see and places I’ve never heard of but will now never forget. And it inspires me with new ideas that keep my creative fires burning. For me, travel is essential to writing fiction.

 

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: