What happens when we travel the world?
We not only experience new things, but we open ourselves up to those experiences. More importantly, we start to figure out that there are a lot of stories within us we tend to hold back and keep to ourselves, when really, there’s a whole world out there who deserves to read and be changed by them. And that’s not even all of how traveling the world makes us better writers.
Here’s how traveling the world will help you write better stories.
You will encounter new places, and stories
It’s pretty easy to go through a pretty long stretch of time traveling between only a few familiar places every day, interacting with the same people you feel you’ve always known. Home, work, the bank, the grocery store, Target. After awhile you may or may not notice that one person’s stories all start to sound the same, especially if they, like you, don’t really open themselves up to places and experiences outside their routine paths of travel.
The way we listen to and comprehend stories changes when our environment and circumstances change. We have to get out there and explore. Everyone has a unique story to tell, especially if you’ve never met them before, and you will find that some people you meet across the world will have no problem sharing their stories with you. You just have to be willing to participate, and live in the moment, and approach every situation with an open mind and a willingness to both listen and understand.
You will learn the thrill of spontaneity
The most common reason we tend to shy away from writing new stories is our unwillingness to be spontaneous and dive into something new. We question ourselves too much. We spend too much time wondering if this is really a good idea or not, whether or not other people will like it, how much time it’s going to take to actually make a story out of it, when we could have written a quarter of it already in that same amount of time.
Traveling the world, you have to let go of that kind of fear, because things rarely go exactly the way you plan. Flights get canceled, you take wrong turns, you stumble upon a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience something you’ll probably never get the chance to try again. You learn to just go with it, to let it happen, to stop being afraid of the unknown. You can then turn around and apply that same mindset to your writing, both abroad and if/when you find yourself back home in the familiar again.
You will have a better relationship with your ideas, and yourself
Think of how free and inspired you feel when you spend an entire afternoon away from screens and tasks and obligations. It probably doesn’t happen very often, but even stepping into the shower for 10 minutes can produce a brand-new idea for a book, and when you’re traveling and have the freedom to play with new ideas in your mind, your relationship with them roots itself in possibility and excitement instead of uncertainty and self-consciousness.
Producing new ideas has a way of motivating us to come up and follow through with even more ideas, which eventually teaches us to be more confident and stop doubting ourselves so much. Venturing around the world and embracing our new ideas – because what do we have to lose? – that is one of the best ways to build confidence, both in our ability to write great stories and in ourselves overall.
Traveling, especially to a different part of the world, might not be feasible for you right now. I know it’s not for me, financially (literally, I can’t even call it an excuse at this point). But I’m planning on saving up to go somewhere overseas, and so should you.
I’ve been out of the country really only once in my life, and I’ve probably written more since then than I have my whole life. Start making plans. Unlock your creativity. It doesn’t matter, specifically, where you go. Just go. Enjoy it. Let it inspire you.
Image courtesy of Moyan Brenn/flickr.com.