The world is my muse: As a novelist, this is why travel is the greatest ever ideas generator

Always carry a notebook with you when you travel – that’s what they say. But I’d like to reassure any budding writers out there that the back of a boarding pass also works quite nicely. As does a black eyeliner pencil and a torn-off piece of cereal packet, or a borrowed biro and the sweaty inside of your arm.

I’ve captured snippets of ideas for novels on all these things in various parts of the world, whether while trekking through the chimp-filled rainforests of Rwanda or during a tiny expedition ship moored deep in an ice-cloaked Greenlandic fjord, days away from radio or satellite signal, with only my own, sprawling thoughts for company.

For centuries, authors have been inspired to write by what they have seen while travelling the world. Take Aldous Huxley for example. He conceived of his masterpiece Brave New World during a sojourn on the French Riviera. While his surroundings were undoubtedly idyllic – “Here, all is exquisitely lovely. Sun, roses, fruit, warmth. We bathe and bask”, he wrote – they also gave him the creative space to envisage his novel’s conversely dystopian world. Ernest Hemingway’s first novel The Sun Also Rises was influenced by the bloody gore of fights and the running of the bulls at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. Even Oscar Wilde famously never travelled without his diary to jot down his ideas. “One should always have something sensational to read on the train,” he famously, fabulously said.

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