Research for Writing While on the Fly

Traveling to other areas can be an excellent opportunity to do some research on current or future writing projects.

When you are relaxing on the beach, or at the lake, or in your mountain cabin, take some time to jot down some thoughts on what you are experiencing at the moment. Check your five senses: what do you hear, see, smell, feel, taste? Take lots of notes on your location that will help you when recalling the scene, later.

Take pictures with an eye to current or future writing as well. In the past, I have mostly taken pictures of the places and things we came to see: the monuments; the famous buildings; the genealogically important sites. Now I try to also include shots of unusual places, people, and things that will help me develop a storyline. Sometimes after I’m home again, I try to revisit in my mind places I’ve been, but I always have a better memory recall when I can at least see the place I’m thinking of. Of course you cannot use pictures of people without their permission, but if you see folks you’d love to use as characters later, why not take a few photos to remind you?

I’ve also found that browsing in unfamiliar libraries can bring on inspiration, too. Suddenly, there are many more unexplored areas and sources to check out. And if you find materials that you would prefer to take home with you, invest in photocopying all the pertinent pages.

Whether on vacation or for other reasons, travel presents all sorts of wonderful chances to add to your writing portfolio — both now and down the road.


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