Travel Writing with Brisbane Writers Workshop

Travel Writing Tips

Last Sunday (17th March 2019), I attended The Art of Travel Writing with Brisbane Writers Workshop, run by the always amazing author, editor and director, Lauren Daniels.

It was my first travel writing workshop as I usually focus on fiction writing, but this time I wanted to branch out and learn how to put some of my travel experiences into stories and blogs. I wanted to learn how to write in a way that captures the imagination and inspires others to get out there and see the world too.

The workshop was small in numbers but big on inspiration and travel excitement.

I have to put a disclaimer right up front about my travel and writing. I confess I am not much of a traveller and so I am limited in my topic options, but am I?

I did go to the UK last year for the first time (if you read my blog regularly then you already know this) and I had so many amazing experiences which I still need to write about.

So, what did I learn and what can I share with you?

Here’s a limited list of travel writing tips inspired the travel writing workshop with Lauren Daniels, Brisbane Writers Workshop:

  • Go travelling and take notes – lots of notes. Take a note book, a voice recorder, shoot video and take photos. This will help bring back memories of the experiences you had while on your trip.
  • You’re not limited in your travel writing. Remember, you can write about your own home town and share your world with others who may want to visit your area.
  • Journalling is an important daily writing practice for anyone who wants to develop their writing voice. It is a place to go where you can be safe and say whatever you want without anyone casting judgement. Writing in a journal is about creating a practice (or habit) that gets your brain switched on and ready to dig deep for writing. It is also a fabulous opportunity for you to work on developing your writing voice which is important for all types of writing, from non-fiction to fiction.
  • Write about your experiences – the fantastic times, the hideous dark, and daring times because people love reading about how you handle the unexpected as well as the sweet.
  • Use imagery in your writing. I’ve written blogs here that haven’t delved into imagery as much as I could have. It’s a way of showing your reader where you are and giving them a taste of the place you are visiting without them actually being there. I’m going to keep working on putting vivid imagery and sense in to my travel stories.
  • Strive to be accurate in writing about places you visit. Remember there are a lot of people who love travelling and many will be familiar with the environment. It pays to double check facts and get nuances of your destination right.
  • You can structure your travel writing stories in different ways such as starting in the middle of an action scene where you set the tone of the stories to come. This travel piece can be from half way through your trip. Then you go back to the beginning of your trip and write from there up to this scene, then go beyond it. It’s one of a number of ways to structure your travel writing stories.

There were mountains of tips, tricks and ideas shared by Lauren Daniels and the participants. I was swept away with the travel ideas and itineraries of those who are planning round the world adventures myself.

We did writing exercises too. I had so much fun with one which was centred around the idea of: “I remember…” then start writing.

The prompt I chose was “Once, I got lost…”

I wrote this piece in long hand in my study journal and I wanted to share it here.


Once, in Oxford, I got lost.

Lunchtime had come around and my writing class had dispersed like ravens into the sky. The traffic hummed with cars, taxis and double-decker sight-seeing buses. Even in the overcast grey of the day, tourists sat on the top deck clicking with their camera phones.

A little lonely, I wandered down a side street admiring the old homes. I notices a security camera over a front door and thought nothing of it. But I should have thought more.

A right turn and down the lane a tiny church sat hunched over itself, surrounded by crooked grave stones with weather worn epitaphs.

It looked safe enough.

Tall trees loomed over the graves and I wandered down the winding path, snapping photos for my memory files.

The air around me stilled. Birds that had chirped stilled. Something unseen touched me, made me turn around.

Two men. Worn clothes. Shaggy beards.

They blocked the path and the entrance to the street.

I glanced right.

Where did the path go?

Was I trapped?

My heart tripped.

The men grew silent and drew closer.

No time to think. I clutched my phone, turned and rant to the back of the church, praying for a way out.

Relief flooded me. An open gate. My heart thundered in my ears. Fear pumped through my legs, giving me the super speed for my body to beat a path to the safety of the street.

I glanced back, heaving heavy breaths. They followed.

I swung right and ran for the main road.

I should have noted the security camera. I’d learned to value the signs.


When I wrote that piece, my heart tripped just as fast in my chest as it had the day that I’d been alone in that cemetery. It was my first trip to Oxford and I’d been having a great time, but I wanted some alone time. That day, I chose to wander on my own and even if they two men meant no harm, the experience still gave me a fright.

I made sure I stayed with people from the course from then on. I’d returned to my class with my heart pounding in my ears and my breath still heaving. My hands shook and I had to write a scene for my novel. It took all my focus to compartmentalise the experience I’d just had and do the writing exercise instead.

Oxford was still fantastic, but I was more aware of my surrounding than I had been before that event. I guess these experiences are part of the adventure of travelling.

Until next time, all the best with your writing, art and creative expression.

Art, Writing and Scotland

I’m circling back around to my arty side this year.

In recent years, I have taken a big break from painting and drawing. I needed a breather but now I have realised just how much I have missed my art practice.

So, I got myself a moleskine art journal (my first one) and have started sketching and water colour painting in it. I am totally inspired by author and illustrator Kate Knappe with her cute little birds, so you will see an image that I drew to honour her artistic expression in the photos below. If you see her work around – there are a lot of greeting cards with her artwork in Australia – do support her if you can and if you like the art of course.

I’m all for supporting living artists who can do with the dollars in their bank account so they can live life and continue to do what they love.

img_0097 2
This is a page from my new moleskin art journal with another little bird inspired by Kate Knappe. It also has an orb, inspired by a walk along the beach today.

Here is one of the pages out of my moleskine art journal.

I’m going through a reflective stage and wondering what I should do next?

Do I keep focusing on writing my novel and slogging away attempting to get it published?

Or do I study something? Something else? Should I study art? Should I study something that will help me in my day-job?

So many questions.

So much inner confusion.

I love art.

I love writing.

I love coaching.

I do enjoy learning but I am not sure what to do. What is next for me?

So this piece of artwork is a true reflection of the questions and confusion whirling around inside of me.

img_0094 2

This page of my art journal is a reflection of how intricately interconnected we all are.

At least, that’s how I see the world.

I have recently decided to sponsor two young girls through World Vision and, hopefully, make a difference for them and their community. I didn’t do this lightly. I feel very strong about young girls having the opportunity for a good education and waiting until a decent age to be married. It is my hope that my sponsor children and their community will embrace this opportunity to have more choices and be lifted up and out of poverty.

As I was drawing this image, I was thinking about my sponsor children and how we are worlds apart, both geographically and with regard to quality of life style and education and choices. But I believe that all beings are interconnected and there are threads that connect us. I believe that one act can have a multitude of effects. A lot of the time, I do not know the effect I have on people, but it is my hope that my effect is a positive one for all concerned.

So, I’m getting back into my art. I’m thinking about things outside of my fiction stories but I am still drawn to my writing. I love it.

I’m just not keen on editing.

Editing is hard work.

I’m not averse to hard work.

I just think I’m a bit creatively burned out at the moment.

But despite my burn out, I am still returning to The Living Death of Toddy James and day by day I am making editing progress. I’m up to chapter six so far. It’s a matter of small daily habits that add up to big changes.

I won’t give up. I’ll rest and I’ll refocus, and I will edit my novel. It takes grit and determination to get these things done.

Now, as promised, here are some more photos of my awesome UK holiday from last year.

scotland1

In the above collage, Dave and I went to Edinburgh and saw the city, Edinburgh Castle. We also visited a fabulous historic place called Torphichen Inn for dinner and a show.

Wow, what an amazing place. I was in love with the atmosphere, the friendly welcome and the life size cardboard cut out of Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series, written by Diana Gabaldon. The ladies at our table were a little shocked at how excited I was to see the cardboard cut out, but I had only just finished listening to the audio book and watching the series, so in my mind, Jamie Fraser had come to life!

I still love David, but it was Jamie Fraser!

I think David was in love with Torphichen. I think he wanted to immigrate and live there for the rest of his life. It was green and homey. The Torphichen Inn was filled with friendly people and the services was excellent. We had haggis. I actually ate some and David had a bowl-full.

img_0100

The photo above is the Torphichen Inn.

The show had bag pipes, singing and excellent hospitality. I truly loved Torphichen and felt very warmly welcomed.

scotland2

We saw the Kelpies sculptures several times as the bus took us from the hotel to Edinburgh and back on our visit. They were spectacular and it was the first time I’d heard that Kelpies were shape-shifting water spirits that take people and drown them. As an Australian, when I hear the word ‘kelpie’ I think of a type of dog, so this revelation was endlessly entertaining to all of the Aussies on the bus.

Dave and I also visited the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book – OMG, I almost wet myself with excitement. It’s called The Elephant House. We had coffee and cake and then we entered the toilets which were completely covered in Harry Potter fan scribblings. It was surreal. I didn’t like the way people wrote all over the toilets. It was oppressive. I think being a fan is great, but defacing property falls outside of my boundaries for appropriate ways to show adoration.

Anyway, of course, I had to buy a mug to remind me of this special opportunity to dine in cafe where one of the most famous writers of today did her plotting, characterisation and writing. I was hoping some of her inspiration and determination to finish writing would rub off on me. I’m still hopeful.

In the photos above, you can see us at The Elephant House.

We also visited Greyfriars Bobby where this little loyal dog is honoured and remembered. This church was fabulous, but for those who enjoy a bit of ghost hunting and paranormal thrills, I have to say there was a crypt there that gave me the shivers.

It’s the circular one with the dome roof. It had two doors with square windows made of wrought iron. I was too scared to get too close to this one. I kept getting the shivery sense that something was inside watching me. My writer’s imagination went wild, wild, wild with exciting ideas for creating paranormal wonder in my stories from this experience!

Okay, for my last Scottish highlight, here’s a super short video where Dave and I went hunting for the Loch Ness Monster and caught a glimpse!

Happy creativity whether you write, dance, make art or create music. Whatever you do, I hope it brings you joy and happiness.

Welcome to 2019

Happy New Year and all that good stuff to you and your loved ones. And a big thank you for supporting my blog over the time you have been with me. It means a lot to me to know that people are visiting and reading my words. I hope that what I share here inspires your heart and your creative expression in life too. I thought I’d write a little about one of the pivotal adventures I had in 2018 and share some highlights.

Last year was a big year for me with my first trip to the UK. I went alone for the first eight days and attended the Fantasy Fiction Writing Course, run by David Farland, in Oxford. Then my partner, David, flew over and we met up in London for a much needed holiday.

Leicester Square and Kensington

Dave and I went to Leicester Square and had high tea. We also stayed in Kensington and saw a Dr Who tardis – that’s what I reckon it was and I’m sticking to my story.

The writing course was intense but I was with a room full of amazing fantasy fiction authors and it was a privilege to listen to them read their current work in progress, and then to provide feedback too. I made some wonderful friends in this course which I am very grateful. They were all incredibly dedicated to the art and craft of writing a fantasy stories that lives on inside the reader long after the last page is read.

Once I’d met up with Dave in London, we had four nights before getting on a Cost Saver Trafalgar bus trip for 16 days where we visited the tourist highlights of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Dave and I did a couple of walking tours of London, saw Leicester Square, the Royal Palace, did the hop-on hop-off bus.

Here are some of the photos I took on my holiday. They include images from my time in Oxford as well as on the trip. Below you can see photos of my visits to Platform 9 & 3/4s in London, Stratford-Upon-Avon, the City of York, Warwick Castle and Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.

UK 1 - Collage

Then Dave and I took the Eurostar over to Paris.

First we got lost in the underground for over an hour and when we finally got to the surface, it took quite a bit to orient ourselves. We saw the Notre-Dame Cathedral and then we were on the hop-on hop-off bus to get our bearings. Below you can see a photo of the Arc de Triomphe and Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Paris 1

Then we went to Le Lourve and found the Mona Lisa and many other beautiful pieces of art that were worthy of just as much attention as the Mona Lisa. The Lourve was huge and magnificent. It was a true highlight for me. So was seeing the Eiffle Tower.

Le Lourve

Below are some photos from York and Stratford-Upon-Avon.

When we visited the home of Shakespeare there was a small market on by the river and these gorgeous owls were there hanging out. Of course, being a huge animal lover, I had to snap up some photos.

York and SUA

 

On our first night in Edinburgh we went to see a Scottish Show with dinner. Here are a few photos of the dancers. We weren’t allowed to take videos, so I snapped up some photos and danced along in my seat.

Scottish Show Edinburgh

Really, there are so many photos and memories, it’s taking me quite a while to go through them and process all the experiences I had while overseas. I think I’ll leave my first blog post for 2019 there because I don’t want to bombard you.

I will do a blog with photos of each section and share the journey with you as I transfer the images across from my phone to the cloud.

Anyway, whatever 2019 brings, I hope it is good for you and that you and your creativity grow and develop in positive ways.

Until next time, happy creativity.

My UK adventure – a few highlights

My partner and I have been on a tour of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. We’re about a third of the way through our taster experience and I couldn’t be happier with what I have seen so far.

Here are some highlights so far:

I had an opportunity to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon. Below, I am standing in front of the museum that was once Shakespeare’s home and birthplace. Apparently, he is buried at the Trinity Church but I didn’t have a chance to see that. Still, I had a fantastic time at this beautiful place. I hope some of Shakespeare’s genius rubbed off on my creative writing!

Shakespeare’s house - the place where he was born - Stratford-Upon-Avon
Shakespeare’s house – the place where he was born – Stratford-Upon-Avon
Flags flying - Entrance to Shakespeare’s House, Stratford-Upon-Avon
Flags flying – Entrance to Shakespeare’s House, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Shakespeare’s ghost had to go wee wee. Such a great thing to see at Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Shakespeare’s ghost had to go wee wee. Such a great thing to see at Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Next we visited York.

I loved York. It has a wall surrounding the city and a moat too. And, apparently it is the most haunted city (city?) in England. I wasn’t there in the evening but I really enjoyed hearing about the things people have seen, like Roman soldiers marching down the street and the fact that certain buildings must have their windows painted white to stop a ghost from moving through the wall/windows and haunting people.

That’s a law in York. The windows of a particular house have to be painted white. I can’t remember the exact story but it was a woman who haunted the area so I was told.

A photo of the board outside the Golden Fleece pub about hauntings.
A photo of the board outside the Golden Fleece pub about hauntings.
The Golden Fleece pub in York - with my finger pointing to the sheep hanging over the door.
The Golden Fleece pub in York – with my finger pointing to the sheep hanging over the door.
Me (Selina) posing in a stone archway - York
Me (Selina) posing in a stone archway – York
David and I playing around in York.
David and I playing around in York.

Hadrian’s Wall was fabulous. I’m not a big history buff, so everything I discover is fascinating to me.

I learned that Hadrian’s Wall was built by Roman soldiers in 122 AD.

That blows my mind. Me leaning against Hadrian’s Wall - it was cold and sleeting rain that day.

Me leaning against Hadrian’s Wall – it was cold and sleeting rain that day.
Hadrian’s Wall
Hadrian’s Wall
Hadrian’s Wall sign
Hadrian’s Wall sign
David, my partner, exploring Hadrian’s Wall
David, my partner, exploring Hadrian’s Wall

David, my partner was so excited to see Hadrian’s Wall, he took off like a kid to see it.

At one point, I wasn’t sure I was going to get him back on the bus. Honestly, he couldn’t stop grinning. This visit to Hadrian’s Wall was an absolute must on our itinerary for him.

I was so happy to see him so happy.

David and I - photo taken just before we left Stratford-Upon-Avon
David and I – photo taken just before we left Stratford-Upon-Avon

Visiting these special places has been wonderful. One day it was sunny blue skies and warmth, the next it was drizzle rain and cold, but it didn’t matter – we both had a great time.

More instalments to come as I find places with reliable wifi.

The Tower of London

Oh my goodness, I have so much to share with you but I haven’t had access to wifi for a while, so these updates are going to come well after the actual dates. But I hope this glimpse into my UK trip inspires your imagination as much as it does mine.

Last week when my partner flew over to London, we took some time to tour around and see the sights. One of the sights we went to was the Tower of London where Anne Boleyn was beheaded and many other gruesome things happened.

I took some time walking through the tower and observing all the armour displays. Below are some of the photos I took.

Selina at the Tower of London
Selina at the Tower of London

That’s me (above) and behind me is a wall of armour. It was a great room to visit and very surreal.

Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
Armour at the Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London

I also took time to see the Crown Jewels and appreciate the magnificence of workmanship that went into each piece. This was a great afternoon in London. Funny to say that since it was a place that has known such gruesome historical events.

I have to say, that I am not a historian, but my visit to the UK has been helping me to develop a deeper interest in learning more about history.

Also, learning about life in a castle is so helpful for my fantasy fiction story that I worked on during my week with David Farland. The course went really well and I met some fantastic authors – all with excellent story ideas. I’m very much looking forward to seeing each of them published in their chosen genre.

I will try to update my blog as I go, but as I said above, the wifi isn’t always reliable.

Today, I am in the Scottish highlands. I’ll write about that another day.

UK here I come

Tomorrow I fly out of Australia and will be on my way to the UK for a month.

I am super excited to be starting my holiday.

So it’s packing time and Miss Poppy decided it was time to check out the interior of my suitcase. Rocket tolerated some photos with me which I took with my new selfie stick. And Jack spent time inspecting my suitcase as I considered what I might take with me.

My companions are so sweet to look after me in this way.

I’ll miss them while I am away but I feel good that my best friend will be caring for them during that time.

My partner is set to jet off and meet me in the UK a couple of days after I go because I’m going to Oxford to do my writing course.

I’ve got a couple of new ebooks downloaded for the trip:

  1. Three Bedrooms One Corpse by Charlaine Harris
  2. Maim Your Characters: How injuries work in Fiction by Samantha Keel
  3. Play It Away by Charlie Hoehn

So that’s one fiction novel, one writing how-to, and one non-fiction book on how to overcome anxiety through incorporating play in your everyday life.

I’ve also got a few digital puzzles downloaded and I’m currently listening to Voyager by Diana Gabaldon.

It is going to be a big adventure for me. I have a fair bit of character development done on my fantasy story, although there is always more I could do. I’ve got some setting sorted. Conflicts sketched out and an idea of the plot. I wouldn’t say that I’ve got all the novel puzzle pieces in my head but it’ll come as I relax and enjoy this travel adventure.

I’m not sure if I will have an opportunity to post here during my travels but if I can, I will.

UK here I come!