Friday, July 6, 2018

Make Your Creative Juices Sizzle with a Summer Day Trip

by Cathy Baker @CathySBaker

Summertime offers a plethora of opportunities for us to explore, learn, and hone our writing skills. Intentionality is the key, unlocking the power of creativity to sizzle through our stories. 

It’s no secret that our brain re-engages when faced with new experiences, so today I’d like to encourage you to plan a day trip. The only caveat is that this destination must be a place you’ve never visited before. 

While on the trip, you must intentionally engage your five senses. This is where the sizzling begins. So, rev up the engine and let’s get started. 

Here are some ideas to consider:
  • Packing tip: Bring a journal, pen, camera and/or phone. 

So, rev up the engine and let’s get started. 
  • See: As you approach the new destination, take in its surroundings. Is the energy palpable or does it lend itself more to a sleepy town? Is it what you expected? What’s the first thing you notice? Is it the architectural designs? Or is it the height of nearby trees and the lush landscaping? Keep an eye out for details. Better yet, take a snapshot for future reference.
  • Hear: Determine before lunch to sit in a busy section. How else can you listen to a variety of conversations? (Let’s pretend this one time that eavesdropping is a good thing!) This is no time to choose an out-of-the-way seat. You’re here to engage the senses, not put them to sleep. Listen for unique phrasing and the sway of natural dialogue. Jot down your observations, not the conversations. 
  • Taste: Order at least one food you’ve never tried before. Eat slowly and savor the experience. Draw a comparison between your new food and something else you’ve eaten. How are they the same? How do they differ? Is this something your protagonist might enjoy or would he refuse to try it in the first place? 
  • Touch: Park your car and take a walk. It’s a great way to get a feel for any new setting (no pun intended.) What do your feet hit with each stride? Is it cobblestone, gravel, asphalt, or worn and weary sidewalks? Is there a lone flower emerging between the cracked sidewalk? Is it soft or prickly? What textures do you observe? Were the buildings constructed with antique bricks or sleek steel? Take time to touch and note what you’re feeling as descriptively as possible. Snap pictures. They just might come in handy for your work-in-progress. 
  • Smell: As you walk, breathe in deeply. Do you catch an intoxicating whiff of well-crafted coffee? Or do you, instead, inhale a hint of industrial fumes from a factory around the corner? Is there a distinct scent in the air? Try to describe it. Write down as many specifics as possible. The olfactory system is one of the strongest memory triggers, but unfortunately, it’s also camera shy. 
  • Bonus: When you return home, consider writing a blog post about the various senses you experienced. 

So, where will you go on your sensory-driven day trip?

Make your creative juices sizzle with a summer day trip - @CathySBaker on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

A sensory-driven day trip can jump start your #writing creativity - @CathySBaker on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Cathy Baker is an award-winning writer and author of Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach as well as Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains. As a twenty-five year veteran Bible instructor, she's led hundreds of studies and workshops. She's also contributed to numerous anthologies and publications, including Chicken Soup for the SoulThe Upper Room, and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family. In addition, her poetry can be found in several popular anthologies.

She and her husband, Brian, live in the foothills of the Carolinas. Subscribe to Cathy’s blog at and receive a free e-book, “Praying In Every Room of Your Home.”


  1. Nothing like a change of scenery to recharge our batteries and reenergize our writing.
    I would love to visit a farm or a lake.
    Great post, Cathy.

    1. Both of those ideas sound lovely, Ingmar. I imagine the senses would love them too. :) Blessings!

  2. Awesome post, Cathy. We're going to Laurens for a daytrip - never been there. And we're taking backroads there and return to home. I'm forwarding this to my writer's guild with encouragement to do the same.
    Jay Wright
    Foothills Writers Guild; Anderson, SC

    1. If you love older homes, you're sure to love Laurens. And the backroads will add even more enjoyment to the trip. Enjoy! Thanks for sharing. :)

  3. Great idea, Cathy -- and great tips on how to really put our senses to work. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Cheryl! I appreciate you taking the time to share. :) Blessings!

  4. What a nice idea. We are usually so focused we only go places when we need to go. When our kids were young we often went to lakes with play grounds for the kids and we would grill while they played, but they've grown up, and sadly so have we. This might be a new take on an old idea.

    1. That's a great point, Donevy! Thanks for sharing. :)

  5. Just returned from a short term mission trip to Turin Italy. Senses? Ah the delicious coolness of real Italian Gelato! Streets of cobbles and rectangular blocks made for uneven walking and leg strain, but ah, the Old Roman atmosphere. Cool, clear, refreshing water pouring from the mouths of bull-shaped fountains, available to any thirsty passer-by. An abundance of cheeses unknown to me, from soft & creamy, to hard & sharp, all sliced from chunks. Some eaten with wondrous Tuscan bread, others with just a dollop of fresh jam on the wedge. Horns honking, continuously as Italian drivers in tiny cars dart in front of you, whiz by, or wait impatiently behind you. Wet heat that causes limp hair, sticky skin, clothes that cling, then a fresh mento (mint) smoothie that tastes so good. Pizza cooking, ah that mouth-watering aroma that pulls at the raging pangs of the stomach. Constant Italian language spoken, quickly, rolling from the tongue with unfamiliar consonants and vowels at then end.
    Yep. Traveling is grand and inspirational.

    1. Oh, my goodness, Jackie! After reading your descriptions, I feel like I was strolling on the cobbles with you. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this mini-masterpiece with us.