So, over spring break I found out that my mom had been plotting against-ahem- for me since shortly after Christmas. By her schemes she has made it possible for me to go to London for four days this May to visit my cousin who has been spending a semester there.
London England is second only to New Zealand on my list of places I have always wanted to go, so needless to say I am extremely excited. In fact, I have a British flag strung up in my apartment (right next to my TARDIS poster and a map of Middle Earth) that my mom got for me to remind me of this coming adventure.
Now, you might be wondering how this ties into writing. To put it simply, traveling to different places, seeing strange sites, ancient castles, towering mountains and old historic cities enhances one’s writing. I went to Europe for three weeks when I was seventeen and came back with a much clearer idea of what ancient castles looked like, how they operated in medieval times and how they could be constructed. This is a great help to me as a fantasy author and a worldbuilder, because in general, the better you know your own world the easier it is to write a fictional one, whether that world is totally new or has settings taken from ours.
Of course, you don’t have to go to London or Europe to learn more about our world. My entire fantasy world is based off the thirty-five acres of land I grew up on, and honestly, if you use Google you don’t even have to leave your house to find a setting and research it.
That being said, I still believe that traveling outside your normal context is useful for writing- even if it’s just going to the next state or part of the city you don’t normally visit. To experience how other people live their lives is extremely useful for making a setting seem real to your readers, because you better convey how a variety of people act, and how places operate. It opens your mind to new ideas, and it is fascinating to see the differences in culture.
The more you travel, the more you research places and history in our world, the more vivid the world of your story will be. Explore the world and your country as much as you can, but if you can’t do that then use all the amazing resources this technical age has provided us with and learn about the world secondhand. You can write remarkable books without ever leaving your house, but imagine how much more remarkable they would be if you went and explored a nearby forest, or the streets of the neighboring city, or, if you get the chance, the rich culture and landscape of another country.