During her extensive travels throughout Asia, Sybil became increasingly interested in the allure and alienation of American travelers and expatriates, and this has heavily influenced her writing. Her fiction and essays have appeared in numerous journals, including Upstreet, The Bitter Oleander, Paper Street, and Alehouse. Her essay on American expatriate literature appeared in AWP's The Writer's Chronicle in September 2005.
You can Learn more about Sybil by visiting her website SybilBaker.com and her blog, An Ex-patriate's Musings on Writing, Teaching, and Travel.
To get into the mood for her guest post on travel writing, watch The Life Plan book trailer:
A writing vacation
I don’t consider myself a travel writer, but I am a writer who travels. The difference is I don’t travel in order to write about my experience, rather I travel and often find that experience works its way into an essay , novel, or short story. Even if I don’t write about the place I’ve been, I at least return to my writing with a fresh perspective, a new image, or change in direction.
In addition to providing inspiration, travel can also give a writer time to write. Consider a “writing” vacation as a way to organize your writing time. Some people have so much going on in their daily lives that they have problems finding the writing time they want. One option is to associate your writing with a vacation instead of as more work. We use vacations as escapes from the responsibilities and hassles from our daily lives. A writing vacation gives us permission to focus on our writing away from those distractions.
Ideally a writing vacation would be a week or a weekend away from home where you don’t have to worry about anyone else except you and your writing. The ideal vacation would also be away from TV or the internet, because even if we have the best intentions, it’s easy to fall back on those vices when we don’t have the confidence to face the blank screen or page. Try to write in the first part of the day then use the rest to get out of your space and explore the area around you—whether it’s nature, a small village, or the city. Keep a notebook or journal of your observations, overheard conversations, the sounds of nature, and use that material for your current or future projects.
Writing away from home
Realistically, some of us can’t afford the time or the money to take a writing vacation that lasts a week or even a weekend. If that’s the case, I recommend you find a coffee shop or another place outside of your home (and office) that is free from distractions and allow yourself “mini” writing vacations. Give yourself a one-hour vacation devoted to your writing. If coffee shops are not your thing, try the library, a quiet stream, or other places that allow you to get away. For example in Chattanooga, our gorgeous Hunter Art Museum has space to sit and work with a great view of the Tennessee River.
When I do travel, I try to be flexible and challenge myself to do things that expand my comfort zones. By doing this, I grow as a person and also as a writer. Think of ways you can use travel to either provide inspiration for new or current projects or as a vacation to allow yourself time to focus only on your writing.
It’s hard for people who want to write to find the time or energy to make it a regular part of their lives. One way to try to put more writing in your life is to not see it as another chore you have to do before you collapse in bed at night but as a vacation, a respite, a battery recharger for all that is required of you. Just as you would schedule a family vacation, schedule your writing vacation—even if it’s just a few days a week, an hour at a time. You’ll find that even these mini trips will enhance your writing and your own quality of life.