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Self-Discovery Through

Travel & Writing

Why do we write?

Certainly not because it’s easy. The only people who think writing is easy haven’t written much—or at all. No, most of us write either because we have something we need to say or because we have ideas we want to explore.

I like Hunter S. Thompson’s take on writing, which he shared in a letter that was subsequently published in a collection titled The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman:

I find that by putting things in writing I can understand them and see them a little more objectively … For words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order if you don’t lie to yourself and use the wrong words.

Okay, so why do we travel?

Most of us are looking to expand our worlds.

Travel is all about discovery—both external and, less obviously, internal. Whether exploring new places or well-loved favorites, escaping the routine of daily life stretches your horizons, thereby changing you forever. And there’s no better way to cement that growth than through writing.

Writing about being on the road can be a lot more than chronicling events or even charting your evolution. You can actually use writing to accelerate that growth by tapping into unchartered areas of your brain through writing. I love that ah-ha experience of writing something on auto-pilot, then re-reading your words and thinking, “Did I really write that?”

The answer, of course, is yes. By entering the writing self-discovery zone, you’ve simply bypassed conscious thought and tapped straight into uncensored truths you don’t even realize you carry inside. Once outed, those newly unveiled truths help you understand yourself and your experiences that much more.

I love Hunter S. Thompson’s take on writing, which he shared in a letter that was subsequently published in a collection titled The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman:

I find that by putting things in writing I can understand them and see them a little more objectively … For words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order if you don’t lie to yourself and use the wrong words.

Ironically, the only way to actually use the right words is to quit trying so hard to get them right in the first place. Trying to perfect your words while in the initial creative phase is the definition of conscious thought—and you can’t simultaneously tap both your conscious and your unconscious brain. That’s why I recommend that you try writing a sloppy letter.

Google the phrase sloppy letter and you will find a series of diatribes against the practice of careless correspondence. Forget all that. I recommend being as sloppy and careless as possible. In fact, I have a list of five rules to help you do just that.

  1. Don’t worry about spelling.

  2. Don’t worry about grammar.

  3. Don’t worry about language or sentence structure.

  4. Don’t worry about repetition, logic or continuity.

  5. In short, don’t worry about anything. Just scribble as fast and for as long as the words keep flowing. Then take a break and start again.

Some people finish this brain dump in less than an hour. Others work on it for months. Without exception, they find the exercise liberating. After all, how can you sweat something that’s supposed to be sloppy?  Along the way, they find their voice. Most importantly, they also find themselves.

So the next time you’re venturing away from home—or are trying to digest your latest travel adventure—allow your writing to take you on an unguided tour through the dark, overgrown jungles of your mind. You just might surprise yourself with what you find.

And remember. If you need someone to provide encouragement, accountability and brainstorming, I’m just an email (linden@onestopwritingshop.com) away.