by Sophia Haddad – Sep 16, 2020
For me, creativity has always been linked to travel. The inspiration for my writing comes from an annual visit to see my dad in Algeria, where I get to chronicle the hilarities that occur when you pack off a Geordie family to North Africa. Think along the lines of; being forced to eat camel in the desert with a non-English speaking guide who considers it a delicacy, being taken to a stranger’s wedding in remote countryside and getting lost on a road trip to find ancient Roman ruins. Imagination sparks when I find myself far removed from normality: it’s the inimitable feeling of pure adventure that makes great stories. I need to be out of my comfort zone to experience that kind of magic.
Thanks to Covid, borders and distances have never felt quite so real. To me, travelling across continents had become something casual that I won’t be taking for granted in the future. Whilst we may not have the privilege to travel freely, I realised that we can find the exotic on our home shores, hopefully these tips will help bring some wanderlust back into your writing!
Be like a Flâneur
We can’t easily go to France, but let’s borrow some more of their language. A flâneur is someone who revels in wandering the city, taking pleasure in getting a bit lost whilst observing society. Slow down your pace and you’ll pick up details that you would never have seen; discover a new street, look up and notice that romantic balcony, could the old man smoking cigars be a character in your book? What’s on your doorstep is more interesting than you think. Bon voyage!
Notice Culture in the UK
We are lucky enough to live on an island that is influenced by cultures from all over the world. Londoners are especially spoiled by the mix of religions, backgrounds, smells and sounds all woven together to embellish the backdrop of the city. It’s hard not to be inspired by London’s vast diversity. If you look closely, you’ll see global storylines converging all in one place.
I once read a quote in the window of Foyles that said: ‘Literature has no borders.’ In that case, neither does your mind. Take yourself somewhere past or future, real or imagined, and see which world you end up in. I’m sure next year we’ll start to see lockdown-inspired creative thinking in the form of wild new sci-fi and dystopian fiction. Likewise, meticulous desk research goes into historical novels so do not stop writing about the past. After all, there’s no restrictions on time travel.
Published Sep 16, 2020