Is it worth the time and effort to journal about your travels? I’ve been asked this question many times by experienced and aspiring travelers alike. There are many reasons to journal, and it’s a question that each person must decide for themselves. For me, the answer is a resounding Yes!
During my two years of RV traveling, I have really enjoyed both the process of journaling, and the many benefits of writing. Here are some of the important things I’ve learned on my traveling and writing journey.
Unblocking Writer’s Block
Anybody who has written has almost certainly had the frustrating experience of sitting down to write only to discover the words just won’t flow. It’s the dreaded writer’s block. And it can be agonizing. But don’t let it discourage you — even famous writers have experienced it.
I use a simple routine when I write that helps me overcome writer’s block: within minutes of getting out of bed in the morning, and with a cup of robust coffee in hand, I sit down and journal. I do this before the day’s activities begin and before checking social media and the news. If the weather is nice, I often write outside. It is my time to journal and everything else must wait.
While routines often receive a bad reputation as being dull and tedious in today’s fast-paced world, they can be very beneficial in unlocking your creative potential. You do not have to waste precious mental energy deciding when and where to write. It’s decided for you and your energy can be devoted solely to your writing. And writing regularly exercises your “creative muscle” and helps you build creative momentum through repetition.
I learned this beneficial technique from Julia Cameron’s revolutionary program for artistic renewal and creative recovery in her best-selling book, The Artist’s Way. Regular journaling, which she calls Morning Pages, is one of the key components of her program. If you’re interested in learning more, please click here the Amazon link below.
Another technique I use to beat writer’s block is to not be judgemental about what I write. Using pen and lined paper, I simply let the pen flow across the page with whatever words come out. I write about the great hike I did yesterday, a dream I had the night before, the interesting person I met at lunch, an idea that came to me while driving down the road…
I just write whatever pops into my mind. I don’t worry if it’s not a continuously flowing story. Usually my writing gains momentum, and I get more ideas and creative thoughts as the journaling session goes on. Before I know it, I have two or three pages of writing covering a variety of topics. Satisfied that I’ve tapped into my creative side, I move on to what my day has in store.
The Benefits of Journaling
Write for Yourself
Regular journaling allows you to document your life travels. You can write about what you see, do, and feel. It will enhance and provide context to the many photos you’re undoubtedly taking along the way.
Here’s an entry from my travel journal:
Bend, Oregon – 09/30/2016
Another beautiful, sunny, autumn day in Central Oregon has dawned. However, the days are cooling and we’re expecting rain by Sunday with snow up in the mountains. I’ve had to give up my dream of climbing the South Sister volcano as today’s high temperature will barely climb above freezing to 36 degrees. And the winds over the Cascade peaks will be howling. Instead, we’re heading into the comforts of town to explore…
Having written documentation of my journey is very valuable. It’s a way to keep memories of your experiences more vivid — a keepsake for when things begin to get hazy as the days start to run together, which they’ve started in do as we enter our third year of full-time RVing.
Journaling also keeps your mind active and engaged. And if you find yourself in a single location for a long period of time, the act of writing itself can provide needed structure to your day, as well as being a productive and purposeful activity.
Initially, I mostly journaled about what new and interesting things I saw and experienced each day. As I’ve become more comfortable with my writing, I’ve explored more about how my experiences make me feel. I’ve progressed beyond recording the “whats” and explored more of the “whys” of my experiences.
My writing has not only improved, but become deeper and more introspective over time.
Write for Others
Content from your journal entries can be useful and helpful to others. For example, many people who travel start blogs to communicate and share their stories with friends and family. You can use writings from your journal to create entertaining accounts of your travels.
Here’s an entry from my travel journal:
Garryowen, Montana – 07/20/2017
We visited Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument yesterday. We started with a ranger talk at the visitor center and then on to a self-guided car tour. The battlefield is immense — at least 6 miles long. There are big sweeping views of rippled hills, bushy ravines and the wooded and winding Little Bighorn River below. In the late afternoon at the end of our tour, we visited Last Stand Hill. It was nearly the same time of year and time of day as the battle was fought. I stood alone with Custer and his men…
For some travelers, blogging is a way to share valuable information and can become a commercial enterprise. Blogs are usually focused and topical — helping others by sharing your experiences or how you solved a specific problem. Here are some examples of blog article topics:
- How you planned your summer RV trip to New England.
- Why you prefer a travel trailer to a camper van.
- How you fixed a mechanical problem with your motorhome.
- What your can’t miss spots were from a visit to Yellowstone National Park.
Writing a blog can help you find your voice and improve your writing. As you share your experiences with others, they will often interact with you through blog comments or email. You’ll learn what resonates with your readers, which can help you identify ideas for future writings. And it really makes my day when I hear from readers who found my writing helpful or entertaining.
Read Ansel Adams: Interpreting the Master – Part I for an example of a travel blog article I enjoyed producing based on my journal writings.
You can even take it a step further than blogging. I have several friends that have used material from their travel journals to write and publish books. While this is definitely a more involved project, it has become much easier and less expensive to publish and market your works.
Write as a Creative Outlet
Writing is a form of artistic expression — and one that doesn’t require a lot of materials. Writing opens your mind to more inspired and creative thinking in all aspects of your life. And the more you write, the more creative you become — forming a virtuous cycle.
For examples of how RV life can make you more creative, read RVing Will Make You More Creative.
Many people journal to express their emotions. By writing about how you feel about things in your day, you can explore your thoughts and feelings — why did a certain experience make you feel the way you did? Revisiting something from your writings in the following days and weeks often provides additional perspectives and can help you see things differently.
Emotional expression can lead you through a highly beneficial path of self-discovery and personal growth. After you’ve been writing awhile, try going back and reading your earlier writings. You’ll be surprised to see how much you’ve grown and changed, both as a writer and a person.
Here’s an entry from my travel journal:
Anahuac, Texas – 03/20/2018
As I write, it is one minute until the exact time of the vernal equinox. There it is! It just happened! I just ran outdoors to experience it. I don’t think I’ve ever been “present” at the exact time of an equinox or solstice. What a fantastic experience to celebrate the rebirth of spring and to feel so in tune with our earth and sun…
There are many great reasons to journal as you travel. From self-expression and self-improvement to helping or entertaining others, there are many benefits. And if you’re having trouble getting started with your writing, try one of the tips I’ve shared above. I hope you’ve found this article helpful and even inspiring.
Now go pick up a pen and enjoy your writing!
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