So…you may have seen that blog circulating around with a title saying that if you want to be a fantasy writer you have to travel. Ahem.
*climbs onto platform and gets notes into order*
First off, I want to say that the title is deceptive, as the author never actually says those words in the article. She talks about how she traveled and how it inspired her books etc, and basically if you can travel, should do it.
Ok, taking that aside…Do you need to travel to be a writer? (we’re going to just skip the whole fantasy writer part. I saw people saying that’s it fantasy so why the heck would you need to travel Tolkien didn’t go to Middle Earth. Ok, no but he did base it in real world geography. So even if you write fantasy you still need to do your research, however that does not mean actually GOING to those places, though that would be cool. You can add in desert sand monsters and whatnot, but knowing what an actual desert is like will add more depth to your story. Fantasy does not mean that you can throw all rhyme and reason out the window. Just because there’s magic and unicorns and you can create your own entire universe, it still needs to be believable and realistic.)
I would say this: if I were a wizened old writing mentor talking to some young buck, I would tell them to travel. BUT.
The thing we have to remember is, a lot of people can’t travel, or travel far, or travel a lot, and that can be for a lot of reasons (financial, physical, mental, chained to a rock where a bird comes and eats your liver everyday) (by people this means me/us. I’m not loaded with enough cash to go scampering around Europe.)
The OTHER thing is that travel does not have to mean going to 50 different countries. It doesn’t mean leaving the country. It doesn’t mean leaving your own STATE. It can mean driving to that cool nature reserve an hour and half from your house. Travel does not have to be crazy long, crazy expensive trips to exotic places.
AND, while there are not really substitutes to the experience of traveling, there are substitutes to the learning part. You can learn and be inspired by different places and geography by reading books, watching travel shows, nature documentaries, not to mention using the good old Google.
And just also…experiences are things we need as writers. Not a particular kind, but just doing things. Anything. Everything. Every little experience can enrich your field of vision, enrich how you see the world and people. And that will then enrich your writing.
No experience is too small. And, yes driving to Wendy’s at 1 am counts.
Because a lot of us (ok let’s be real here: MOST of us) will not be traveling to 50 countries. And right now with the pandemic, we aren’t going anywhere at all.
Does that mean we can’t grow as writers? HECK. NO.
We can still read, we can still write. And those are the only two things we have to do as writers.
And…that’s all for now.