Monday, August 3, 2009

Vacation or Staycation

My company has left, and the house seems empty. Fortunately, my visitors were my family who pitched in and helped out with everything from cooking to gardening chores. Unfortunately, my "to-do" list is so backed up, I feel like tossing the whole thing and starting over.

Still, the past two weeks have been fun and interesting. We spent a lot of time "junking" our way through various second hand stores and visiting farmers' and crafters' markets. It may seem like this was wasted time, but it's time that could be put to use, when you know what to do. As a writer, you will find that everything you do has value.

Whether you're like me and had a "staycation" this year or you've gone on an actual vacation, take your notebook or note cards with you. If you find a fabulous shop, a great restaurant, or a fun activity, make note of it. Be sure to include hours of operation, street address, complete name and anything to spark your memory of what you found. Pick up brochures, business cards, take out menus and other free information from all the places you visit. If you travel away from home, check out motels and hotels in the area. Make a note of prices, special deals, whether they allow pets, have kitchen facilities or a fireplace. Is there a pool, workout room, sauna, or other amenities? Do they offer a free breakfast?

Wherever you go, whatever you do, you can collect information which will be useful to you whether you write fiction or non-fiction. You may be thinking travel articles, but what if your main character loves to junk shop and finds a mirror that transports her to another world? Maybe your main character runs a hotel, and there's a ghost on the 13th floor. Taking accurate notes and making detailed observations of places, people, and activities should be a top priority for every writer.

Be sure to label your notes. A lot of writers use note cards rather than a notebook so the cards can be filed under appropriate headings. Notebooks, unless they are tabbed, can end up being a dumping ground for miscellaneous information that never gets used. Note cards, on the other hand, can be organized, pulled out as needed and refiled under the appropriate section with a notation as to when and how the information was used. If you do use a notebook because it's easier to keep when traveling, transfer your notes to cards when you get home.

Have fun in your travels this summer whether you visit the restaurant around the corner or 3,000 miles away. Just be sure to bring your notebook and keep those memories fresh for use at a later date.


  1. I have my PDA with me with it's notebook program :-) Also, if able a quick photo will do the same trick for something that visually sets you thinking/feeling.

    I love Staycations. Every time I put the house right before we've gone away, I keep wishing why aren't we staying home and enjoying the peace and quiet here...always more work coming back.

  2. Hi Chris, thanks for that tip. I'm still the pen and paper kid without a PDA. I'm probably in the minority now, so your advice is excellent for all those folks who are more technologically advanced than I am.