The Attentive Tourist

My kids are on spring break this week, and I got the week off from work. If you were to ask me how many words I’ve written so far this week I’d have to ask, “Do emails count?” Even my Think Tank post is late. I’ve made no progress on my novel. But I didn’t really expect to.

Vacation happen, and if you have kids it can be even more difficult to carve out some writing time. But that doesn’t mean the time has to be  a complete write-off. As you go about your vacationing just remember to think like a writer.

Going somewhere new? Besides taking lots of pictures, practice identifying descriptive words and phrases for all five senses. What does the place smell like? Sound like? What are some interesting or unique features that could be useful in a novel?

Start coming up with “What ifs”. For example, if you like to write mysteries, think of things like, “If I were to kill someone here where would I most likely hide the body? What sorts of clues might that leave behind? Who might see?” Or if you write romances, “What might be a romantic spot? What sort of conversations might this location spark between two near-strangers? What sort of information might coming here reveal about the characters?”

Look at the situations you go through. Even if they weren’t dramatic for you, take a moment to think of how one little change might have turned a routine experience into something dramatic, even life-changing? What if the bellhop were a pickpocket? What if the cleaning lady was in the pay of the CIA? What if the desk clerk got the information down wrong and your hotel room was supposed to have gone to an international businessman with Russian Mafia connections?

Of course it’s perfectly okay to give your brain a rest, too! If you find any of these ideas stressful, don’t do it! You’re on vacation! But if you can spare the mental band-width, why not keep your writing chops sharp, even if you can’t write right now? You are having new experiences, so why not gain from them as a writer?

Don’t let vacations keep you from thinking like a writer!

Thom Stratton

About Thom Stratton

Thom is a Utah transplant, works for a regional bank, and spends his lunch hours working on his latest novel. His wife, three kids, and four pets find him amusing and somewhat useful, so they keep him around.