Writing Research Right Through Your Vacation

Three years ago today I was enjoying the Santa Monica shoreline on July 4th. Maybe you are having a wonderful vacation over the (American) holiday today.

But writers and bloggers never miss an opportunity to find fodder for writing, so keep your ears and eyes open–and your notebooks and pens ready, too.

According to Robin Hemley, in A Field Guide for Immersion Writing, a travel writer can handle her topic in one of several ways: The Infiltration, The Quest, The Reenactment, The Investigation or Forensic Journey, and The Experiment.

It’s difficult for a tourist to infiltrate a place as if she were a local, but it can be done with a lot of research and hard work. For the quest, plan out what you are going to search for ahead of time.  If you’re vacationing somewhere you have been before, I am sure you can reenact your previous good times without too much trouble ;).  For an investigation you want to be a little more hard-boiled than for a quest.

If you just want to have fun with your leisure time, choose an activity you wouldn’t normally tackle and go “experiment.”

Above all, enjoy yourself and then get back to your writing next week.


Filed under Blogging, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir writing theory, Research and prep for writing, Writing

14 responses to “Writing Research Right Through Your Vacation

  1. Traveling is a great way to find fodder, but sometimes a trip to your local grocery store or mall can spark many ideas. I love to people watch! Have a great 4th of July, Luanne!

  2. This is so true. I haven’t blogged in over a year and just returned to it, and suddenly I am finding topics everywhere and outlining them in my mind while still experiencing the moment.

  3. These distinctions are really cool to think about. Of course there is the vacation parody or flop! That can make for fun too. Just reading best American Travel Writing edited by Bordain, 2008. As usual, some saucy stuff, but he talks about how few reaaly good travel writers there are and how travel writers must work to avoid being glorified advertisers. -Renee

    • Luanne

      Renee, what an important comment about travel writers not being “glorified advertisers.” So true. Are there tips for how to avoid that trap?

  4. Sometimes when I’m waiting for something or someone, I watch people go by and in my “moleskin” notebook I jot down from one to three keys words about people who go by. I force myself to write down the first thing that pops into my head – the thing that makes the biggest first impression on me. It’s a game that’s fun, but it’s also a good observation and writing exercise.

    • Luanne

      Anneli, what a wonderful idea for an exercise. Thank you so much for this. I’m going to try it today!

    • Wordsfrommanneli, I love this writing idea and can’t wait to try it the next time I’m waiting around people-watching, one of my very favorite pastimes. This is going to make it even more fun – thanks for sharing it!
      -Chris at flashmemoirs.com

  5. It’s important to step outside if the writing world to have the mind filled with new adventures and visions that inspire more beautiful and creative art.

    Happy day my friend.


  6. jeannieunbottled

    It’s good to hear of these various approaches to travel writing. I’m thinking of Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods,” which is about his attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail. I think he used ever tool in the box to write this book. I love his writing.

  7. I think it is so wonderful to read your ideas and then the ones you inspired! I think being open and able to receive information is a good way to be a writer but like you said, “experiment” and “research” your new locale, also good ideas!

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