Writing While Traveling

I should travel more often. My wife recently pointed out to me that I seem to get a lot of good writing ideas when we're on the road somewhere. I always take a small laptop or portable computer with me, and whenever the chance comes up, I'm busy writing.

During a trip we took to Eastern Europe in 2002, I wrote the outline for 'Ribeye the Bullbarian and the Jewel of Baloni' during that trip. There was a lot of time we spent sitting on airplanes, on trains, ferryboats, etc. that was excellent writing time. I did a lot of writing outdoors in a big public park in Tartu, Estonia, and in the Esplanade Park in central Helsinki, Finland.

I simply love to travel to other places, and write there, amid an atmosphere that inspires me in some different way than my home in Los Angeles. I'm a big fan of taking weekend writing sabbaticals, driving somewhere where I won't have too many distractions of home, and writing. I just recently went on a 're-writing/editing' sabbatical in Palm Springs, one of my favorite places to get away.

At the start of 2003, I had to travel back and forth several times to North Carolina and Virginia to deal with a family medical emergency. Though none of it was by any means a trip for pleasure, the good that came out of it (besides seeing my family) was that I did a huge amount of writing during the travel time. Large sections of my first novel were written in hotel rooms in North Carolina, in the air over the country, and in airport stopovers all across the country.

I like to think a little bit of each place I travel shows up in my stories. There are always people to meet and places to see that spark the imagination. I find that the wide-open spaces of the American West in particular can't help but inspire a writer. Every rock mesa, every canyon, every cliff, every painted desert vista tells a story all to itself.

Last summer I was stranded for five days in the Mojave desert. I had gone for a day drive and my car's radiator blew up. (Thank God for both AAA and cell phones by the way). I had to have my car towed 38 miles from the middle of nowhere to the sleepy outskirts of Barstow California, and there I was stuck in a hotel for five days while the parts had to be ordered to fix my car. I always have a portable computer with me, so I spent those five days writing, even though I hadn't planned them. A three hour tour, turned into a five day mini-exile.

Right next door to the motel I stayed in, was a small farm with a chicken coop out back. Just watching those chickens gave me some ideas for an book/cartoon series Mike and I had been kicking around for years called 'The Barnyard Avenger'. I spent those few days dreaming up Barnyard Avenger situations, as well as outlining some other projects. What could have been terrible downtime, turned out to be an unexpected windfall.

Little unexpected things like that are the best forms of inspiration. Naturally, I love the idea of traveling and writing. Even if it's only driving out of town for the weekend, and parking myself in the shade of a Yucca tree somewhere in the California desert and working on a chapter or two, getting out of the house and out into the world is a major inspiration that keeps me writing.

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