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Part I: Have Ideas, Will Travel
By Lori Myers
August, 2007, 09:50

For writers who travel, ideas, like an oncoming avalanche, can't be held back.
You may have surmised from the title that this article is about travel writers. You know, those lucky people who fly off to exotic locales, their entire itinerary planned, interviews timed, everything paid for by the publications that send them to London, Paris, maybe even Wichita. Theirs is a lifestyle filled with romance, adventure, and a paycheque with some great tax deductions. But actually, this story is not about travel writers. Rather, it's about writers who travel. You know – us.

Here we are at vacation time, schlepping the luggage, screaming kids in tow, gazing helplessly at the departure board with the words "cancelled" emblazoned on them. We swallow some very bad coffee and down a hot dog as we wonder how we're going to pay for this "getaway."

Itineraries? Forget about it. Assignments? The writing life that we love will just have to wait.

Or will it?
Just because you go on vacation doesn’t mean that your writing has to be put on hold. For writers who travel, ideas, like an avalanche, cannot be held back. You are surrounded by an onslaught of ideas. 
Let’s start in the airport terminal. While waiting for your flight, take a walk around. Stroll into a shop that sells magazines – not only regional but national publications. Make sure you have a notebook and pen.

Choose a magazine and flip through its pages to get a sense of it. Ask yourself what the focus of the magazine is and what sort of stories it publishes. Even more importantly, determine whether it accepts freelance submissions. You can do this by comparing the names on the masthead to the articles’ bylines. If the names don’t match up, it is likely that they accept freelance submissions.
Chances are one or two of the magazines you check out will accept the types of stories that are within your expertise. Those are the ones that may be worth buying and taking a closer look at while you’re waiting to board your flight.

Inside the terminal you may also find magazines that come from other parts of the world, and perusing these publications may inspire ideas for stories and articles. If so, jot them down. If you don’t write the ideas down when they start to sprout; you'll forget them by the time you walk out the shop entrance. So don't delay when the seed of an idea appears.
With some new magazines in hand and maybe a candy bar or two, continue your stroll and take a look at some of the eateries. Sometimes the airport restaurants can be rather unique. If you're a food writer, this might be the perfect place to walk into one or two of them, ask for the manager, and play detective.
Also, look at what some of the other shops are selling. Sometimes they stock unique items, particularly those that are representative of the immediate area or region where the airport is located.
So there you are. You haven't even left for your long-awaited vacation and you've jotted down a few or perhaps a hundred ideas for nonfiction or fiction articles and stories.

Sure, you don't have a free ride to Paris or Wichita. But so what? The best is yet to come.  

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Lori Myers is an award-winning freelance writer and co-founder of the Central Pennsylvania Writers' Consortium whose articles, essays, and fiction have appeared in over 40 national and regional publications. One of her articles is part of the archives at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.  

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