I just got back from a fabulous 2-week vacation in Italy and loved every minute of it. I explored the history and sites of different cities, towns, and countrysides and, most of all, the people. Within the immense beauty of the land and cultural history, I came away with thoughts about writing and life, in general. Let me take you on a little tour of the lessons I learned about writing while I was there.

  1. Something well created lasts longer than those which were created fast. Iconic buildings throughout Italy took years or even decades to build. We can write a book in a week, but long-remembered books took time to develop and write. Powerhouse Margaret Mitchell took ten years to write Gone with the Wind.
  2. People are motivated by fear or desire. Many cities around Italy are surrounded by huge stone walls atop mountains and hills built centuries before modern machinery to secure the town and its people against attacks. Other cities are built in the mountainside overlooking vast blue-green seas. It would have been easier to build in the valleys, but fear of enemies or desire for natural beauty made it worth the effort.learned
  3. Opened windows and closed shutters abound letting the air in but filtering out light. Open your mind to the possibilities and protect yourself from the distractions that hold you back.
  4. You can do remarkable things if you set your mind to it. Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel in four years despite not being a painter. He worked on the 17-foot sculpture of David night and day in the rain and elements for nearly two years to create one of the most remarkable masterpieces in history.
  5. If you don’t know the language, just ask. Whether you are traveling, writing, or anything else, if you don’t understand, seek out people who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise.
  6. All roads lead to Rome. Find what’s in your heart and write it. Be true to yourself and let the world hear from you.learned about writing
  7. Use resources you’ve got. If you’ve got marble, be grand with marble If you’ve got a talent or experience, use it for all its worth. Don’t worry about things you don’t have. Trade your assets with other daring souls.
  8. You have to take risks to find the best stuff. The road was steep, narrow, and winding to get to the majestic Amalfi Coast. I held my breath around each hairpin turn which precariously borders a nauseatingly steep cliff. I’m afraid of heights. Maybe they were, too. But, once we reached a town or a less ominous overlook, the view was worth it. Totally worth it. Take a risk. The view from the top is awesome.
  9. Always carry toilet paper. Be prepared for obstacles and plan to overcome them successfully.
  10. Things made in nature trump that made by man. As beautiful as the temples, bell towers, and churches are throughout Italy, nothing can compare to the beauty of Tuscany or the sparkling Mediterranean overlooking Capri. Get outside in nature and feel its transformative power to fuel your writing.
  11. Not always the biggest attraction that makes the biggest impact. More may have read Chaucer, but if your book profoundly changes one life, wow, that’s big.learned about writing
  12. Experiencing new things and people alters the way you view the world. I thought Italians used lots of garlic, but no. They do not.
  13. My problems are small. It’s hard to be bothered by local inconveniences, like no parking places when you visit Venice. Everywhere you go, you take a water taxi or walk. Uneven streets and steps over bridges are the way of life regardless of the load you carry or the shoes on your feet. You might have things holding you back from writing, but there are writers with bigger obstacles.
  14. People throughout history are greedy and good. Good and bad rulers and popes and warriors. Find the good in people and the best in yourself.
  15. Knowing history helps to understand our present. My grandparents were from Italy. Understanding how they lived gives me better insight into how my views on life evolved. What they saw and experienced every day play a part in who I am. Seeing their homeland is a key to better understanding.
  16. It could always be worse. Without a method for removing waste, “it” regularly flowed through the streets of Pompeii. I know! We’ve all got poo in our lives. Build a bridge and get over it.
  17. Wear comfortable shoes. It’s a long journey.
  18. You can either go wide or deep. You can see the highlights of everything or experience the essence of one place, the people, food, and local life. Frame your book to either go wide or deep.
  19. When in Rome…try something new. You never know what you’re going to find.Rome
  20. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take your time and do it right. It’s worth the wait.
  21. Behind everything, there is a story. Facts are great. Stories are better.
  22. When maps don’t work, use your instincts.
  23. Get quality luggage. The right tools make everything easier.
  24. Find a good guide. You’ll get to your destination without getting lost, and they’ll show you where to find all the best stuff. It’s also true for writing and publishing your book.
  25. There’s no place like home.

What have you learned while traveling? Ciao!