Create: My Travel Writing Process

When I rebranded this site to my own name, I added an important word to the tag line; create. I wanted the new site to really reflect who I am at the core; both a wanderer and a creator. I've gone through creative bouts ranging from sewing wallets from old jeans to spending hours upon hours in a dark room printing photographs the old school way. Since the site has been up and running for a bit - it's time for me to dig a bit farther into that core piece of who I am. I hope by sharing a few stories about what and how I'm creating in my life at the moment helps get you thinking about your own creations and creative process. 

Tree in Jasper National Park

Post-concussion, I've spent a lot of time thinking about quality and how to best shape my creative process to produce the best possible products. So, in the spirit of what I've been thinking about, I'd like to kick this new series off with a look behind the curtain at the creative process I go through for travel writing.

Writing is perhaps one the trickiest creative tasks for me at the moment and therefore, it's the first one I really started to think about. I used to love writing in high school - I wrote short adventure stories inspired by photographs I had taken during my travels and others were based on the vivid adventure dreams I would have (and still do). All that got derailed when I went to college and immersed myself in writing policies and lengthy papers on international security. Followed by seven full years of working in the public sector - my creative writing abilities had been almost entirely snuffed out. Thank goodness for a concussion and trip to Portugal for finally knocking some sense into me to evaluate my process. 

Today, my writing process is completely separated from my other creative processes. I head up to the second floor of my house - it makes for the most calming creative space. Carpeted and painted a soft light blue, it's the quietest spot in the whole house - isolated from the dull hum of all the downstairs appliances. It's filled with Zeke's instruments, art by family members, a poster from my brother-in-law's band, my sewing studio, and the John Lennon Imagine poster. I sit on a futon couch covered with a quilt my mom made - sitting is key for my writing process, I can't stand and write anything remotely creative.

Using my slowly decaying laptop, I open a blank document and a browser window to Pandora. My favorite stations for writing currently include Mumford & Sons and Bastille. I'll bring up a cup of genmaicha tea or hot water with lemon and light the lavender candle on the side table. Parsley will usually curl up next to me - sometimes plopping her head down over my key board, adding her own chin-typed words to the piece. 

I don't let myself read any content written by anyone other than myself and theres absolutely no social media checking during writing time. I don't look at photographs unless I really need the inspiration. The only other materials I'll have with me are my hand written notes.

Hiking in Banff National Park

When I get into the zone, my imagination has taken me right to the location I'm writing about. I'll be retracing my steps as I get lost in the streets of Rome and find the Trevi Fountain or carefully walking along a catwalk in Banff National Park. These scenes play like a movie in my head as I write - I can rewind, fast forward, and even zoom in to particular details if I need them. Thank goodness for my very visual memory! 

All that gives me a first draft which I let it sit for at minimum 24 hours. Then I'll come back upstairs and read the whole piece aloud to myself. I'll make updates and fact check with whatever sources I have in this second draft. Again, I let it sit at minimum 24 hours. If all is looking well after that second draft, I'll head into my downstairs home office and edit the piece in whatever final form it will take on my desktop computer. Carefully bringing in any design and visual elements like photographs or maps. Once more reading it aloud to myself and either scheduling a publish date or hitting send on an e-mail. 

From there, it's time to move on to the next piece.

Do you have a specific process you go through to write?