Saturday, 27 June 2015

Can Holidays Be Good For Your Writing?
Every Wednesday between 8 and 9 pm,  if I can, I tune in to #writingchat on Twitter. It's usually hosted by @PatsyCollins and @mariaAsmith but this week the role fell to @CarolBevitt. 'Tweeps' are encouraged to converse with each other about chosen topics that vary each week . On June 17th, the topic was 'holidays' and guess where I was? On holiday on the beautiful island of Madeira.

Using the hashtag, I was able to catch up with the tweets on my return. Here is a selection of comments made:

Holiday destinations can be good settings in stories. Time to take notes about smell, taste, as well as sounds and sights.

I love being inspired by new places. 

Sometimes a 'writing holiday' can be as simple as taking a notebook to the park, away from the noise of the house.

I always write a travel journal when we're on holiday. The journals have proved their worth, giving me stories and characters.

It got me thinking about how holidays have influenced some of my writing. I don't usually sit and write a whole story or chapter on holiday but I always take my notebook with me. Photographs taken on holiday are also a good inspiration and are a permanent record of what you've seen. My story 'Whispers In The Olive Trees' was inspired by holidays to my aunt's house on the Peloponnese. I remembered feeling the gnarled bark on the solitary olive tree at the end of the garden on the beach. The smell of the summer jasmine and the vibrancy of the scarlet geraniums tumbling out of huge Greek urns was all the more real because I'd been there. I'm pleased to say that it's been short listed in Crediton Short Story Competition 2015 

Madeira is famous for its Jacaranda trees and the beauty of the tree in full bloom figures in my story 'Meet Me By The Jacaranda Tree' which was published on Alfie Dog Fiction last year. I've tried to capture not only what it looks like but the feel and the smell of the flowers. The appeal to the senses has a direct effect on the decision made by Lucy, the main character.

In March this year, we visited Los Gigantes in Tenerife and witnessed the annual carnival which culminated in the Burning of the Sardine ceremony and a firework display. I did use my notebook on that occasion and made loads of notes, writing from our balcony where we had a superb view of the procession. I was able to capture the colour and spectacle of events both with photographs and on video. This has resulted in a short story entitled 'Burning Our Sardine' after I'd asked a favourite question for writers 'What if?' What if a little child was lost in the hoardes of visitors who'd congregated in the square? I'm hoping to submit the story soon so watch this space!

In my novel WiP, my main character, Clara, finds out that her father was an Italian POW from Sicily. For the purposes of authenticity, I hope you agree that I now need to go on a fact finding visit to the place of his birth. Clara herself traces him to a Trattoria in his homeland and it's important that I get it just right I think! :-) That's what I'm telling myself, anyway, and I feel a trip to Italy coming on... 

How have holidays inspired your writing? Do you write whole stories/chapters or use a notebook when away? I'd love to hear about how holiday destinations have influenced you.

Thank you for reading my blog. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

*** I came home from Madeira to a lovely surprise. I'd subscribed to Bridget Whelan's Newsletter and won a copy of her book, Back to Creative Writing School. It arrived in the post yesterday and I'm looking forward to reading it. Thank you, Bridget! ***


  1. Holidays are good for the writer - and what's good for us must be good for our work?

    1. Very true, Patsy. I love going on holiday but sometimes find it difficult to get back into the swing of writing. Once I start, however, the ideas are often richer because of the holiday. Thanks for commenting.

  2. I think it's good to jot things down whilst we're away from home. I call it storing ideas for later. Good post Jan, thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Maria. Yes, I need to have things jotted down. I find the camera is a great way of reminding me of the things I saw but a notebook captures much more, I think. Thanks for popping by to comment.

  3. What a lovely blog, Jan - your holidays sound wonderful. Using them as inspiration for your writing is a natural thing to do. What better holiday souvenir could you have?! I had a holiday in Scotland and visited Aberfeldy and saw the beautiful birks (silver birches) and the waterfall and promptly sent my characters there on a visit.

    1. Thank you, Sue. I used to holiday in Scotland as a child and went back a few years ago. I love the sound of your characters visiting the silver birches and the waterfall there. Thanks for commenting.

  4. I'd say an occasional holiday is essential, even if it's just a day trip not far from home. I get more writing done in the week before a planned break because it works like an extra deadline, (I must get this story/ chapter finished before I go!)
    While I'm away I have a notebook with me but I confess I don't write very much in it. But I do take lots of photos and also pick up tourist's guides, maps and leaflets that might be useful if I need to check facts about a place later.
    Just being away from the computer, my to-do list and the usual routine seems to get my imagination working and I usually come home with new ideas that I'm itching to write down.
    I've just come back from visiting my sister in Lancashire. She's researching our family tree so she was keen to show me old photos and documents she's unearthed. We also visited a cousin we hadn't seen for years and he was able to tell us lots of tales about his branch of the family. I have a feeling my next story might be something historical!

    1. I think your point about an extra deadline is very true. Linda. I love family stories especially from previous generations so good luck with your historical story. Thank you for your comments.