Part III: Have Ideas, Will Travel
By Lori Myers
October, 2007, 09:59
We finished Part II of this series on the plane, where there were just as many ideas for articles and stories as there were in the airport terminal in Part I. But we're not done yet. More inspiration awaits.
|Whether on sand or snow, destinations are full of endless writing inspirations.|
You've finally arrived at your final destination. It might be someplace warm and beachy, or a site where snow blankets the ground. No matter, because writing ideas are right there at your fingertips. You might have to do some digging, but as a writer you should be accustomed to research.
If you're staying in a hotel, you'll notice some magazines laying on the desk or table. Many of those magazines present the restaurants, shops, and entertainment opportunities in the area. One of those publications may also be a regional magazine, which usually accept freelance stories related to the area. Get familiar with them and ask yourself, what is the essence of this place? Is it a beach town? A vital urban centre? A getaway spot? Then take a closer look at some of those restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues and answer these questions: What makes this a great vacation spot? Why do people come here? Make your way around town and plan on visiting the places that make this spot a popular destination. Stories about these places might interest travel magazines. Talk to the locals about what foods the area is known for. Maybe you can find inspiration for a food-related story for a culinary publication or for that regional magazine back in the hotel room.
Ask the concierge if there are any special events going on in town. Examples might be an art or film festival, a county fair, or a house tour. Find out what makes that event special and keep notes on it when you attend.
But if you've got only a limited amount of time to spare in this new town, city, or island, it's more important to find those out-of-the-way places that most tourists don't know about. Again, talk to some of the locals - find a small coffee shop or diner where they congregate - and ask about unique eateries, a hidden bookshop, or an odd museum that is easy to miss. Chances are they haven't had any national write-ups. Travel magazines love to tell their readers about those unique shops or a special dish that can only be found in a tiny restaurant with four tables.
I once traveled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where everything about the Amish is right on the main drag, which is frequented by visitors from around the country. But it wasn't until I drove down some back country roads that I met an Amish woman selling homemade root beer, her traditional clothing held together by pins, as is the custom. Now that's a story!
Travel the side and back streets. You can usually find starving artists, jewellery makers, or possibly a fashion designer just starting out who is creating something never before written about. Not only will you earn a byline and a paycheque, you'll be helping that artist or designer get attention for their labours and talent. Or perhaps there's a small winery or a breathtaking vista that could interest a publication or two. Just make sure you keep track of all the ideas in your notebook, along with contact information of the various business owners.
Well, there you have it. After your holiday finishes and you make your way back home, your luggage will be filled with souvenirs and photos, and you'll also have a notebook burgeoning with ideas.
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. http://www.lorimmyers.com
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