Almost all of us have this raw desire to travel and see the world. We want to learn more about the people and the cultures around us. We want to see the history right before our eyes. For most people, travel is an important part of their lives. To a writer, it’s not just important; it’s vital.
Traveling even just a few hundred miles from home can give you a new outlook on the world. But when your journey takes you far beyond the borders of where you currently live, there’s something eye-opening that will inspire you in an entirely new way. Here are the things I love most about traveling.
Every country is filled with stories. Every country has unique myths and legends. Each country has stories that are passed down from generation to generation. They reveal the history and help each new generation understand how past generations lived. What better way to gain inspiration and to spark creativity than to see what a new country has to offer? To find the stories, you can do it through the best-loved resources available – museums, historical buildings, and events can all help you dive deeper into the culture and experience life from the people deep within.
New lands provide you with new landscapes. From the deserts to the seas, from the mountains to the valleys, every aspect of Mother Earth provides a visitor with a sense of awe. Whether you are in an urban city with millions of inhabitants, or are alone in a desert with no one in sight, the sheer vastness and beauty can leave you breathless. And inspire you well beyond anything you would achieve in the normalcy of home.
Learning a new culture gives you empathy. In many ways we don’t appreciate or empathize with things we don’t understand. By getting close and personal with people from other cultures and other lands, we learn that in as many ways as we are different, we’re also more alike then we realize. By viewing the world through another’s eyes, it provides a palette of characterization in which you can learn from. Mannerisms, accents, beliefs, even physical characteristics can all make you realize just how close we really are. (And give writers like me lots of ideas for new book characters.)
Traveling provides you with more depth. The simple acts of visiting a coffee shop, touring a historic monument, or even sampling the best restaurants in a town will give you more perspective than you could ever get by sitting at home. You can hear the sounds, smell the distinct aromas, and see in distinct detail what certain areas are like, and how the people from within live on a daily basis.
Planning is part of the process. Part of the fun of traveling is planning. It’s like creating a short story before you begin with the fully thought out manuscript. You do a little research, make a few decisions, all in anticipation of adding in the details in the near future. It leaves you filled with anticipation of what is to come.
If you are thinking about writing a novel, it can be a daunting process.
What would people think of my writing?
Do I really write well enough to be published?
Do I have a great idea for a story?
Will my book sell?
Should I try to hire an agent?
And those are just a few of the thoughts that crossed my mind as I started the process.
But being a first time author has a lot more aspects than these. It’s a tough learning curve with no end in sight. Publishing takes a lot of work, but it doesn’t end with the writing process. From there, you have to edit it, design the pages and the cover, build your brand, market your book … the tasks create an endless supply on your to-do list.
I’m now deep into the writing phase of my second book, and if I could go back in time and give myself a little guidance before this whole process began, here are my words of wisdom.
Never skimp on the important stuff. If you’re a writer, writing is what you love most. I get it; that’s my first love too. But a potential reader won’t fall in love with your book and choose to read it if you don’t put just as much thought in the other things too. Never trust a cover design from a friend, or plug in your title and a photo into an online cover creator and get your cover for free. Your cover is what sells your book; make sure you invest in a quality cover design. With so many great options out there, to trust generic covers for your novel wouldn’t do your final book justice.
The same holds true with editing. When you write your novel, you are too close to the subject to look at the copy through critical eyes. A great editor can not only fix your grammatical mistakes, they can also provide you with guidance to tighten up the story line and make it even better. Bring them in early; they are well worth the investment.
Consider a mentor. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. I have professional coaches to help improve what I do. The more you surround yourself with professional great people that understand your goal, the more you’ll start achieving your dreams of becoming a published author. I would never be working on a trilogy if I hadn’t selected the right people to place around me and help me stay on this path I’ve designed for myself.
Think long term from the beginning. Have you ever asked yourself why you want to write a book? Is it to say you’ve written one? Is it to hold it in your hands and check off that task from your bucket list? Or is it to become a paid writer and have people read and love what you have to say?
If you want to be a well respected author, you have to do more than write a book. You have to think of it like a business. When you look at it as a business, you’ll start to see your writing in a different way. Your characters will take on a different life – why not a trilogy instead of a single novel? You’ll start to pay attention to things like reviews. The reason most first time authors struggle is they think too narrow from the beginning.
Being a writer isn’t just about writing; it’s about the entire process. It’s about getting your words on paper, all the way to placing a copy of your book into the hands of fans that love what you do. If you think from that aspect first, you’ll find success as a writer.