Steven suggested this topic: write about something unrelated to your writing that still affects your writing.
For me? It’s traveling.
I love going to new places! I think part of this is a result of how much I’ve moved in my life. The other day my husband and I were counting up all the places we’ve lived since we were born. I’ve lived in (give or take) 15 houses in 5 states and 8 different cities in my 24 years. The longest I’ve stayed in one house is 5 years (and it might even be 4 now that I think about it. So since I was young I’ve been used to meeting new people, seeing new places, road trips. My grandparents took me on a big road trip all the way from Colorado to Texas to Washington DC when I was 11. my brother and sisters were so jealous.All this led to a curiosity about other countries. I first traveled out of the US when I was 17. I went to Zambia and South Africa. A year later I went to the Marshall Islands. Since then, my husband and I have been to Europe twice: the first time we visited Italy, Spain, France, and Swizterland and the second time we revisited Spain and France. We’ve been to all up and down the West Coast, too, even a brief (and terrifying) visit to Vancouver, BC (which I’m sure is very nice but we had the misfortune of booking a hotel in the worst part of town. We went to a great Beirut show though).
All this to say what? How does this affect my writing? Well, I’ve found it affects my characters and my plots.
My characters seem to always be on the move! I can’t think of one story where my characters don’t go to at least a different city. Often they travel (on horse or in cars or by teleportation) to other states and countries. What’s weird is this isn’t even intentional. I don’t think, ‘well this is getting boring, we need a new location.’ My plotting just subconsciously incorporates other places and sends my characters on trips.
I’ve also found it gives me a richer sense of setting. I’ve been able to write about tiny villages in the Swiss Alps, the beaches of LA, the bustling city of Paris. When creating my own new places, I’ve been inspired by the tropics of Hawaii, the red dirt in Africa, and the history of Rome.
My travels also help the variety of culture, language, and people in my stories. I’ve been able to bring in more than just the kind of people and lifestyles I see in the cities and towns I’m living in. in the cities I’ve lived in, I’ve met professional bull riders, former meth addicts, hipster college students, fundamentalist Christians, and more. And sometimes when I read older stories, I always think of more ways I could make the setting or characters (usually supporting ones, but occasionally main ones) more interesting from what I’ve seen and done.
Some places I’d still like go visit:
— New York City (you wouldn’t believe the amount of research I did for Finding Fiona and yet I still probably got stuff wrong!)
— Israel. I would love to see the birthplace of so many religions, including my own, and the land that carries so much history!
— India. I’m currently writing a story where the MCs are from another dimension (but have relocated to ours) and I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from India and Hinduism. Yet even as I say that I know India is home to not one homogeneous culture but various people groups and regions. I’d love to see those!
— Germany. From friends who have visited Germany I’ve only heard good things. They’ve convinced me I need to visit.
Honestly, the list goes on and on: Florida, England, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, Egypt, Australia. And there are so many places I’d like to revisit and spend more time in: Paris, Vancouver, Barcelona, Rome, Ischia. So many places to visit, so little time! Kind of like the fact that I have so many stories to write and so little time 😉
Emily Ann Ward is the author of Finding Fiona, Le Garde series, and The Protectors series. One of her first stories featured a young girl whose doll came to life. The rest is history. When it comes to fiction, she writes mainly young adult, contemporary, and fantasy. She also writes nonfiction, ranging from stories of her travels to thoughts on the Bible. Aside from writing, she loves traveling and she’s a content editor with Entranced Publishing. Currently, she lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband Chris and their cats. Visit her website at http://emilyannward.com