If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our September Author Interviews--9/6 Kathleen Valenti, 9/13 David Burnsworth, 9/20 Jeri Westerson, 9/27 Frances Brody. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

September Saturday Guest Bloggers: 9/2--Anne Bannon, 9/9 WWK Bloggers, 9/16 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/23 Kait Carson, and on 9/30 Trixie Stiletto.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How Travel Benefits Writing



In Under the Black Flag: The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates (Random House 1996), author David Cordingly describes how the thirty-year-old Robert Louis Stevenson began writing Treasure Island while on holiday with his family in the Scottish mountains. They had a summer cottage, and Stevenson’s stepson and father delighted in listening to the chapters as he wrote them, giving him suggestions for characters and plot. Stevenson quickly finished the first fifteen chapters and had a contract to publish the story in installments when his writing stalled. He returned home from vacation and corrected the proofs, but made no further progress with the writing.

Because of his precarious health, in the autumn, Stevenson went with his wife and stepson to Switzerland. Upon arriving, he rediscovered inspiration and described his experience as: “down I sat one morning to the unfinished tale; and behold! it flowed from me like small talk; and in a second tide of delighted industry, and again at a rate of a chapter a day, I finished Treasure Island.
 
Robert Louis Stevenson
Last Tuesday on WWK, when Sam Morton wrote about finding his muse, Warren Bull commented that he found his muse in travel. I’ve had that experience, too.

I’ve often read that the cure for writer’s block is to change activity, because the subconscious works while the mind is preoccupied with other pursuits. Even switching from typing to hand-writing can be enough to turn on a light bulb.

Just recently, I had been puzzling over the back-story for a character when I had the opportunity to hand-write the word “pharmacist.” A day later, it came to me what my character had studied in college and why she took a different route from working in a drug store.

Whenever I travel, I find ideas come at me from all directions. Not just spurred on by the new venues and people I see, but because I feel freed to make connections that seemed impossible or at least elusive at home.

I began wondering about this phenomenon and came up with the following reasons why it occurs. When you travel you:

(1) Have to face your fears. Even though you may have trepidation about the journey or regret about what you’re leaving behind, once you start, you've committed to dealing with your apprehension and facing the situation as you encounter it. The moment of decision is over and the moment of action has begun.

(2) Have to leave your comfort zone. Travel takes you out of the safety of your nest and forces you to roost in foreign territory. You have to pack to accommodate your needs, but you have to travel lightly, so you can't be weighed down with baggage. You have to carry the essentials. It's freeing not to have too many things to tie you down. And, if you're serious about writing, you have to figure out how to fit it into your travel schedule. I’ve found my iPad with bluetooth keyboard to an be ideal companion, particularly since it also contains an e-Reader with many downloaded novels to be read!


(3) Have to move. Motion provides its own momentum. For me, time spent driving from one place to another is never wasted, but gives me a chance to think about my writing and helps me come to new conclusions.

Inspirational travel doesn’t have to be long distance. It might simply be a change in routine, or in the way you move. This year, I’ve taken tap dancing (to be described in a later blog) and exercise classes. The activities seem to have enhanced my creativity and writing output.

Recently, seeing new and unexpected signs in familiar locations has given me story ideas. One was at my neighborhood Chick-fil-a (which I mentioned in my comment to Sam’s post about finding your muse). The restaurant was advertising a “father-daughter date night.” Since seeing the post card announcement, I’ve plotted a story and written the first draft, going back to the Chick-fil-a to type it, while sipping coffee and eating fruit. I haven’t figured out yet what to make of the sign I saw at Dunkin’ Donuts (on a steep overgrown slope behind the drive-through lane, the sign read, "City Park--No Dumping," and the area looked like a prime location for a hidden body), but I’m willing to continue patronizing the store until I can work  it out!


Where have you gone lately, and how has it influenced your writing?

11 comments:

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Everything that provides us greater experience, influences our writing. Travel is certainly one way to broaden our exposure to the world.

Recently I visited Columbia, South Carolina for the SC Book Festival. Fellow WWK blogger Paula Benson (Oh gosh - that would be this blogs author) gave Jan and me a great tour of the capital and at the end of the festival suggested my main character, Seamus McCree, should spend some time in Columbia.

Sure enough, Seamus does get to spend time in Columbia, at least in the first draft of my current WIP-although probably not exactly as Paula had in mind!

~ Jim

Paula Gail Benson said...

Looking forward to reading about Seamus' journey. So glad you and Jan made yours to Columbia, Jim. That's another advantage of travel. Meeting new people.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

You've convinced me! Definitely need to travel more. It does spur the creativity.

E. B. Davis said...

I think well during long car rides, although anything over six hours makes my legs cramp. That's when I do my best plotting, especially if I'm alone. I like to go someplace and stay a while. Trips that mean hotel stay and driving to the next stop the next day aren't pleasure to me. All the points you mentioned in your blog, Paula, are true. Getting outside of your routine jogs the brain. Every so often, I pour using my "off" hand and solve puzzles. Both ignite the brain like mini trips so when I'm not traveling, I'm challenging myself out of the mundane.

Sasscer Hill said...

Travel can fuel the creative juices, no doubt. Different places, different faces, but mostly it's getting away from the mundane routine. The load of laundry, the dishwasher that needs to be run, the dog that needs to be walked. The vacuuming, the dirty windows. If I wrote about that stuff people would probably burn burn my books!

Warren Bull said...

Living in New Zealand for four months was a great experience, with amazing scenery and wonderful people. I also had chunks of time when I was not distracted phone calls or social expectations. I wrote my dissertation by shutting out distractions. NZ was much better. We'll see what happens when I go on an African safari in August.

Gloria Alden said...

I enjoy travel and pick up little ideas here and there, but since I'm always with others, I never write while on vacation except in my journal which covers people and events and maybe a conversation I overheard. But like Sasscer said, it's good to get away from the everyday routine, and as Warren wrote, the phone calls and social expectations.

I always start any writing project writing in long hand with pen and paper. The ideas seem to flow so much better, but after it's started I can finish it on the computer where I do all my editing, too.

Carla Damron said...

I agree: a change of venue can be a huge help to our writing. Of course, traveling with Paula Benson means I'm too busy talking to write. She's a seriously bad influence.

Kara Cerise said...

I agree that travel and getting away from the everyday routine can provide story ideas. A few years ago while returning from a vacation in Canada, the customs agent scanned my new passport. He then said, “You’re not an African-American male.” While my photo and printed information was correct, the tracking chip contained another person's information. It was an interesting dilemma how to prove my identity and I was questioned for a long time. My husband later told me he thought he was going to have to leave and get a lawyer. But I've tucked that experience away thinking it could be an opening scene to a thriller that begins with mistaken identity similar to North by Northwest.

Shari Randall said...

Paula - loved this post - makes me want to pack up and go right now!
Warren, I am looking forward to hearing about that African safari.
Kara, your passport story - wow. I can imagine the grilling you got, but as you say, what a great way to kick off a story of suspense.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Jim, Jacqueline, E.B., Sasscer, Warren, Gloria, Carla, Kara, and Shari, I was traveling today, so I'm delighting in reading all your messages following my journey. Thanks for taking the time to comment and for all the lovely ideas. E.B., I'm going to try your hand trick. Warren, hope you'll write about Africa. Kara, so glad to have you back in the country! Sasscer, I'd read your books even if you wrote about dish washing, and, .Carla, I think it's time we make a road trip!