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Part II: Have Ideas, Will Travel
By Lori Myers
September, 2007, 09:50

As you soar into the sky look at the inflight mags. You may find yourself a new market.
In Part One of this series, we discussed how you can find new writing ideas when traveling. Specifically, we reviewed ways to find article ideas inside the airport terminal while waiting for departure. Now let's talk about the plane itself.

Say it's time for takeoff. Your carry-ons are safe and secure. Your seat is up, you're crunched between a burly businessman in a suit and a teenager snapping gum, and the flight attendant is pointing to the exit doors just in case. You're saying to yourself, "Ah, once the plane is cruising I can sit back, relax, and wait for the peanuts." But not so fast now isn't the time to take your writing hat off. There are ideas galore waiting for you right here in the small space that will be your home for perhaps the next several hours.

The most obvious place for ideas will be inside the airline's inflight magazine. You have plenty of time to leaf through this publication and see what sort of stories they accept. Most, if not all, accept freelance material. And if you think the stories and articles contained within those pages are all about propellers and exit doors, think again. These publications are very consumer-oriented. In most cases, they contain a variety of articles on a variety of subjects.

For instance, let's take a look at Delta Airlines' inflight publication, "Delta Sky." In a recent issue, there was a story on a lodge in Georgia, another about coronary bypass surgery, and yet another profiling a conservationist. There were business stories, decor stories, and an interview with a chef. As long as it's a story that may interest a traveler, it's in there. Other inflight magazines include similar columns for food, business, and travel. Many, such as "enRoute," AirCanada's magazine, contain humour or personal essays, stories about celebrities, art galleries, and urban revitalization.

And one of the best things about inflight magazines is that if you find something of interest or would like to contact the editor, you can simply take the magazine along with you.

More writing ideas may be just a seat away. Take a close look at the people sharing your digs. That's right the businessman and the gum-chewing teen. They may look innocent and non-threatening, but imagine the treasure trove of ideas they have under lock and key. All you have to do is make some conversation and find out what they do, their interests, hobbies, thoughts and opinions. What sort of work does the passenger in the suit do? If it's business, pick his brain a bit about the topics of concern to businesspeople. If the passenger is a doctor, attorney, or a plumber going incognito, ask about those professions and what's going on behind closed doors.

Then turn to the teen. Assuming you can work your way around the music-blasting earphones, what are the latest music and fashion trends? What political and social topics are teens concerned with? Can you transform these into articles for teen-oriented magazines or parenting magazines? How about a young adult novel? Could this teen perhaps provide inspiration for a book idea?

OK, the pilot has just announced the plane will land in 20 minutes. Now is the perfect time to open up that inflight magazine, grab a pen, and tackle that crossword puzzle. But don't forget more ideas await you at your destination.

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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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