Monday, July 22, 2013

Traveling to Write Like a Local

New England, fishing boats, coast, islands, Massachusetts
Trouants Island View
This weekend was a fun time for me as I traveled hundreds of miles north through several states up to the coast north of Cape Cod. Although the weather was extremely hot, (the car's thermometer read 105 degrees Fahrenheit) we had great air conditioning. Unfortunately our destination was almost as hot as home even though we jumped north over several degrees of latitude. In spite of feeling more than damp all the time, the trip was wonderfully refreshing.

Driving into an area where the plants are different, familiar foods are named strangely and everyone is speaking with an accent gives me a new background on which to write. I can read about other's travels, but when I experience a new location personally, there are so many more details that impress my memory. Writing about specific locations using real landmarks seems to add credibility and believability to fiction.

I was reading an article from National Geographic, Traveling like a Travel Writer where Robert Reid mentions that to really 'see' a place, sometimes it takes an outsider to look around. As a local, I see my own town in a certain way, often overlooking unique characteristics as they have become normal to me. While my husband drove, I could study the passing areas through my window - the ever driven women running in their exercise suits, homeless men that looked like they just stepped off a ship, different kinds of seagulls circling overhead, endless miles of rock walls and interesting road signs. (Why do snow plow drivers need a sign before every bridge telling them to take caution?)

If you find yourself unable to find inspiration from your local area, try a little traveling. When you come home, you will see things a little differently and might be able to write more effectively as a 'local' but through the lens of a traveler.