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Writing Road Trips

June 28, 2011

Sometimes, writers need inspiration. Sure, we can find anecdotes from our families, our friends, and maybe even from doing the laundry. However, when separating the darks from the lights just doesn’t cut, we need new form.

Every four months or so, I go on an overnight writing retreat. There are a few writers’ havens nearby which offer a cheap bed and a small town full of secrets waiting to be told.

This past week I tried something new and traveled to the plains of Colorado. The winding road reminded me of the Nile, as I followed a thin river slightly surrounded by green brush but with vast dead earth beyond. While it wasn’t the best venture for scene writing, I did come across a few colorful characters.

My small motel proudly served a free breakfast, complete with fried eggs, hash browns, buttered toast and a choice of bacon or sausage. At least there was a choice in the matter. I found a table near a group of older men who the waitress knew by name.

While I ate my salty eggs and drank black coffee, I listened to the men. It may have been America, but it was definitely a different country. While racist slander wasn’t what I had in mind when I left on this particular retreat, their conversation made my imagination roll. I wondered about their wives, their homes, and whether or not they left bags of Doritos in the back of their trucks. I may or may not write a book with such characters, but they sure helped my creative process.

Next time you’re stuck, try something new. Be an observer to characters you don’t know and write about what you see, plus what you don’t. I promise, you’ll be writing for hours.

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One comment

  1. A fellow fan of Tunisia and NYC, I agree with you….I took a road trip about 15 years ago, from NY where I live to Charlottesville, VA and wound through some West VA hollows that made me feel I had landed in a Thomas Hart Benton image.

    I think we all need inspiration all the time. This morning I got my easy dose by listening to the BBC World News, where I inevitably hear something about the U.S. that I have never heard or read in American media…



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