Sunday, October 2, 2011

Guest Blog: The Traveling Writer, Part 2

One thing I've learned about writers is that they're a generous group, willing to share knowledge, trade secrets and opinions if you simply ask. And since my friend and fellow Jersey Girl, Lori Myers, makes her living as a writer, I was happy to have her back to share some more of her ideas for the traveling writer.

Whether you're a frequent flyer or just a once-a-year vacationer, you'll find Lori's ideas easy to implement. So, check your bags, stow your carry-on and turn your attention to the writer paying more attention to the back of the seat in front of her than the flight attendant's memorized speech....

Hey, Lisa, thanks so much for having me back to your fun little corner of the Internet. It’s nice relaxing here on your porch swing for a bit!

Well, let’s see, where we were? Oh yes, finding new writing ideas when traveling away from home. In part one, I discussed how I get article ideas inside the airport terminal while waiting for my flight to depart. So now let’s stroll into the plane.    

It’s time for take off. My carry-ons are safe and secure. My seat is up, I’m crunched in-between a burly businessman in a suit and a teenager snapping gum, and the flight attendant is pointing to the exit doors - just in case. I say to myself, “Ah, once the plane is cruising I can sit back, relax, and wait for the peanuts.”  Not so fast. Now isn’t the time to take off my writing hat. There are ideas galore just waiting for me right here in my small - okay, tiny - space. A space that will be my home for maybe the next several hours.

The most obvious place for ideas will be inside the seat pockets in front of me in those in-flight magazines - both for domestic airlines and those based overseas. Right now I have the time to leaf through the airline’s own publication and see what sort of stories they accept. Most, if not all, accept freelance material. And if you think the stories and articles contained within those pages are all about propellers and rudders, think again. These publications are very much  consumer magazine-oriented. In most cases, they contain a variety of articles on a variety of subjects.

For instance, let’s take a closer look at Delta Airlines’ publication called Delta Sky. In one issue, there’s a story on a lodge in Georgia, another about coronary bypass surgery, and yet another profiling a conservationist. There are business stories, decor stories, and an interview with a chef. As long as it’s a story of interest to the traveler then it’s in there. Other in-flight magazines include similar headings on food, business, and travel. Many have humor or personal essays. Another example is enRoute, AirCanada’s magazine. It has stories about celebrities, art galleries, and urban revitalization.

One of the wonderful things about these magazines is that if you find something interesting in there or think you have an idea and want to contact the editor, you can simply take the magazine along with you.

More writing ideas may just be a seat away. I take a close look at the people that are sharing my digs. That’s right. The businessman and the gum-chewing teen. They may look innocent and non-threatening, but imagine the treasure trove of ideas they have under lock and key. All I have to do is make some conversation and find out what they do, their interests, hobbies, thoughts, and opinions. What sort of work does the passenger in the suit do? How can he help me with business-related ideas? I’ll pick his brain a bit about the topics of concern to businesspeople. If this passenger is a doctor, attorney, or a plumber going incognito, I’ll ask about those professions and what’s going on behind closed doors.

Then I turn to the teen. What are the latest music and fashion trends? What political and social topics are they concerned with? I can transform these into articles for teen-oriented magazines or parenting magazines. How about a young adult novel? Can this teen perhaps provide inspiration for a book idea?

Well, the pilot has just announced that the plane will land in just 20 minutes. Now is the perfect time for opening up that in-flight magazine, grabbing a pen out of my pocket, and tackling that crossword puzzle. But don’t forget. More ideas are waiting at my destination.


  1. How right you are, Lori! I got a terrific idea for a story from my seat mate the last time I flew. Now I have to write it, or at least a query. Which do you recommend--query first, or finished piece?

  2. These are killer ideas, thanks for sharing them! Stories are everywhere‼!

  3. Dear vawriter - It's good to know that you used your travel time wisely! My advice would be to query first. Make sure you have interest from a publication before you spend time writing a finished piece. Another reason for this is the publication that accepts it will have certain guidelines, such as word count and style.

  4. Tanya, my pleasure and you are right. Stories are everywhere!