Sunday, January 15, 2012

Travel to Get Bitten by the Writing Bug

A view from above Piazza di Spagna, Roma. 
The Keats-Shelley House is on the left. 
Photo by Georgia Kostares.
During my 70 or so vacations through 27 American states and 23 countries or territories over the past 38 years, one thing has been consistent in my writing life: I have never failed to journal. For some reason, writer's block has never existed when I'm traveling. Perhaps it's the mind-awakening sense of adventure. Maybe it's the freedom from mundane distractions. Or it could be an urge to report about new sensory experiences. Whatever it is, at age 20, I took the advice of one of my college professors, Paul Cherry, who said, “If you want to be a writer, you have to travel.” After all, isn’t that what Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Neruda, and Isak Dinesen did?

Carl Sandburg House, Flat Rock, North Carolina.
Photo by National Park Service.
One of the great pleasures of traveling is visiting the homes of writers or museums dedicated to them, such as those of William Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, John Keats in Rome (pictured above) Nikos Kazantzakis in Myrtia, Crete, Carl Sandburg in North Carolina (pictured across), and many more. Just search your favorite writers. At these locations, first-hand insights are available on these writers' intellectual development, interests, and creation process.

So the next time you take a trip, research writers. You may find yourself writing nonstop. Of course, you don’t have to leave your home in Amherst to write well—just ask Emily Dickinson.