As I get ready for my second annual summer road trip, I have also been doing a lot of editing. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I started thinking they might affect each other. And I’m not talking about an impact on deadlines.
So here is a quick post (I have packing to do—and I don’t miss deadlines, so I have those too!) on why being a world-traveler has made me a better editor.
My incredibly wise mother said that traveling is like a college education. “The more you understand, the better you are at relating to your writers,” she said.
Always listen to Mom!
I may not have experienced all of the things that you are writing about, but I have a better chance of imagining whether they are feasible (or correct, if that matters) because I have experienced such an array of what the world offers. From hang gliding in New Zealand to squeeing at giraffes on the side of the road in Botswana, I’ve seen a few things.
Don’t get me wrong with that heading! I am only fluent in English.
But I have heard, read at least street signs in, and attempted to speak phrases in many a language. My students one year tried to keep count of how many different languages I spoke a sentence in, but I don’t remember the end tally…
By traveling and getting exposed to so many languages and dialects, I have some knowledge of what words can be used where when you want to sprinkle in some spice. I also have a few people I can turn to if a bigger translation needs a polish.
3. Concepts of Distance
Maybe you’re happily writing and you want your characters to travel from Amsterdam to Milan. The plot is rolling along and after a few hours IST (in story time), you have them at your destination. Europe isn’t that big, right?
I have actually stopped editing and put destinations into good ol’ Google before. But my travel experience made me aware of how just how big or small different parts of this planet are. If not for that, I would have just continued on with my edit.
4. Cultural Realism
Hopefully we all know that stereotypes are not how people act. But if you want to put your character into a location you have never been, you can only get so far with research.
I’ve only been to a couple dozen countries, but while in them I have met people from even more. And travelers love to share tales of their travels! So by traveling, I have experienced parts of the world I may never set foot on. And that can help me make sure your story line is realistic.
I Just Want to Travel and Edit
A few years ago when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up, I said to myself, “I just want to travel and edit.” And now I realize that they are great bedfellows!
Tell me some of your favorite travel destinations in the comments below! What have you gotten out of your travel bug?