*Make writing experiments over a long period of time.

For example, plan how much you will write for a particular work each day, perhaps one word or one page.

It has been incredibly hard not just to budget time for writing lately, but feeling motivated to write. I suppose that happens when you have too many things going on at once. But I think that the days have seemed exceptionally long because I have a vacation on the horizon- I’ll be on the road and driving to New Orleans in three days. I was hoping to find a prompt that could correlate with travel writing and I’m actually excited that I found it!

Depressed about the notion that my growing workload that will undoubtedly greet me when I return in a week, I decided to organize my writing schedule for the trip. I’m hoping that inspiration will abound: lively people, beautiful weather, and music everywhere. I’ve come up with six “mini experiments” for my time in New Orleans to facilitate my writing, thus allowing myself to really immerse myself in my surroundings.

Here’s the plan…

  • Day One: Write a fictional backstory about strangers you see on the street.

My friends and I have had a condo located in the French Quarter on reserve for months; it will be where we lay our heads for five nights. It has two stories and more importantly, a balcony that overlooks the street. I plan on completing this exercise on a sleepy weekday morning or at dusk, while the street is teeming with people unaware of when and where their night will end.

  • Day Two: Visit a museum or historical landmark. Try to envision how it got there and why it’s important.

Each person in the group has their own itineraries, but we’re all collaborating to get the most out of the trip. For example, if someone wants to try absinthe for the first time, the group will work together to locate the perfect bar to set the scene. For me, I’d like to visit the Historic Voodoo museum and Confederate Museum. Each place has a long history in Louisiana, so it might be difficult to choose which one to write about.

  • Day Three: Pick up a newspaper. Choose a headline from the front page and write a plot.

Once again, I’ll probably be walking along the street one morning before anyone else is awake and I’ll pick up a paper to see what’s going on in the local scene. It will be interesting to see how different or similar New Orleans is compared to other major cities.

  • Day Four: Write your obituary. It can be in present-day or years into the future.

I thought that prompt was perfect because quite a few of us want to visit a cemetery in hopes of seeing a funeral procession. Strange? Probably, but we are a morbid bunch. Our condo is within walking distance to St. Louis Cemetery. I hope that walking around a cemetery provokes me to ponder my own mortality and envision how I’m going to exit this crazy world.

  • Day Five: Rewrite a passage from a book.

I’ve had a copy of The Great Gatsby that I’ve been dying to start and I think New Orleans is the perfect backdrop for reading this story. I read it first in high school so this will be my second time reading it, first time as an adult. I’m going to pinpoint a passage that “speaks” to me at that specific moment and try to emulate it with elements of my New Orleans surroundings.

  • Day Six: Sit in a restaurant or crowded area. Write down snippets of conversation you hear. Write your version of what comes next in the conversation.

This one almost goes without saying: perfect travel writing prompt. I remember going to Chicago for the first time and holding a table for dinner at a pizza place. As I sat there, I discreetly watched a couple at a nearby table. Their lips were moving, but their eyes were drinking each other in. I wondered what things they could be saying to each other to encompass such an intense gaze. I’ll be looking for these moments.

So, that’s it. I’ve laid out my agenda and when I return home on May 6th, I should have a lot more to write about.

NOLA

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