5 amazing writers whose travels influenced their writing journeys

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Right now I’m on a plane, flying from Sydney to LA and it got me thinking about writers and travel and how their experiences on the road influenced their writing journeys. Here are 5 amazing writers whose experiences travelling shaped their work.

#1 Jack Kouriac

jack keouriac at desk

Kouriac was the first writer I came up with because I immediately thought of his semi autobiographical novel On the Road. The book, describing Kerouac’s adventures road tripping across the US and Mexico is just one of his works inspired by travel.

According to Kerouac, On the Road “was really a story about two Catholic buddies roaming the country in search of God. And we found him. I found him in the sky, in Market Street San Francisco, and Dean had God sweating out of his forehead all the way. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY OUT FOR THE HOLY MAN: HE MUST SWEAT FOR GOD. And once he has found Him, the Godhood of God is forever established and really must not be spoken about.”

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf portait photograph head shot

Woolf visited the seaside village of St. Ives (in southwest England) with her family as a girl and the carefree summers there seem to have been some of the most positive and uplifting parts of her life. In ‘A Sketch of the Past’ from Moments of Being Woolf wrote “…I could fill pages remembering one thing after another. All together made the summer at St. Ives the best beginning to life imaginable.”

It is thought these travels to Cornwall inspired her novel To the Lighthouse from which comes this beautiful quote about taking a journey alone:

“For now she need not think of anybody. She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of – to think; well not even to think. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others… and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures.”

E.B. White

EB White author of Charlotte's Web at desk

White is well known for his children’s books Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little but he was also a man who liked to travel, honouring the natural beauty of New England (in particular Maine) in The New Yorker.

One of my favourite White quotes on travel is:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

Ernest Hemingway

hemingway with typewriter in nature

Hemingway spent much of his life travelling abroad and there are so many extraordinary places associated with him because of his writing; Spain, Paris, Cuba, East Africa and various parts of the US.

He said; “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Words also relevant when thinking about your writing journey!

Anaïs Nin

anias nin portrait photograph

Born in France to Cuban parents, Nin spent her early life in Europe. She moved with her mother and brothers to Barcelona before they relocated to New York city where she eventually abandoned school to work as an artist’s model.

She married her first husband, Hugh Parker Guiler in Cuba before the couple moved to Paris in 1924 where Nin pursued her interest in writing. She remained in Europe until 1939 when she returned to the US due to the approaching war.

One of her most well known quotes was inspired by her journeys: “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”

Do your travels get you inspired to write? What are some of your favourite writers whose works were influenced by their experiences travelling?

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