Monday, July 16, 2012

Writing on location.

I thought I would break up these South Africa travel blogs with a quick post on writing during a trip. When I went to Africa, I struggled at first to find a balance between participating in all our activities and finding time to write. I’m one of those people who needs to remember every single thing about an important experience, but during this trip, there were so many cool things happening, I didn’t have time to write them all down as they happened. Here are some tips that worked for me.

-Carry a notebook everywhere. I bought a small, spiral journal that would fit in my purse and took it everywhere with me. I like spiral notebooks because the pages don’t flip back while you’re trying to write something. I could pull it out of my purse whenever something memorable happened and scribble down a few notes.
-Make lists and short notes instead of trying to write paragraphs. If you don’t have much time but want to remember something important, jot down a sentence or two. You can always go back and expand later.
-Take tons of pictures. They can serve as a memory-jogging tool and are quicker than writing down long descriptions of people and places. Refer back to them while you’re writing your journal entries.
-Lots and lots of pens. I took four or five pens on my eighteen day trip, and I was down to my last one by the time I left (Granted, I discarded one of them after it had been chewed on by a baby in the village, not because it ran out of ink). You definitely don’t want to be stuck somewhere without a writing utensil, especially if you don’t have a friend to borrow one from (or a place to buy one). And going along with that…
-Bring enough paper. I brought a second notebook just in case. I didn’t wind up using it, but you never know! One of the guys on my trip lost his notebook halfway through the trip, which was devastating, but at least if you have a second journal, you can pick up where you left off.

The most important thing about writing on location is to never forget why you’re doing this: for the experience. Make sure you live in the moment and enjoy each experience as it happens. Don’t constantly have your nose in your journal, scribbling down notes from that morning while the world goes on around you. There were times when I didn’t journal for two or three days because I was so caught up in traveling and bonding with my new friends. So many people say we spend all our time these days documenting. We watch concerts through a camera lens instead of with our own eyes. We tweet and update our Facebook statuses while something exciting is happening. I think it’s so important to live in the moment. Trust me, you’ll have more to write down afterwards if you let yourself be surrounded by the experience and take in everything that you can.  

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