5 Cheap adventures to inspire your next story

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By Julie Tyler

Travel and writing go together like peas and carrots. But let’s face it: traveling takes time and money that many emerging writers don’t have a lot of.

The good news is that life can be full of story-inspiring adventures, YEAR-ROUND and ON THE CHEAP, as long as we adopt the right mindset.

In this post, I help you redefine your sense of “adventure” to maximize the possibilities that are already at your disposal. Fill your days with more fun and fodder for stories, starting right now!

First off, look for adventures that are comprised of these three components:

  • A journey. You don’t have to go far. Just leave the house and stay away for a spell before you return.
  • A challenge. You don’t have to win a Pulitzer or earn a black belt in Jui-Jitsu. Just set a goal or define a mission for your adventure that requires effort.
  • A good story. You don’t have to write a Pulitzer-winning memoir based on your adventure. Just set out to experience something humorous or that changes your perspective, that you can tell about later.

Agreed? Great! With your new definition of adventure, get out there and get creative:

Adventure #1 – Attend a poetry slam

Poetry slams inspire us in many ways. As competitive events that reward WHAT poets say and HOW they say it, slams tend to draw a lot of talented wordsmiths who have important statements to make about the world.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find a poetry slam or open mike night near you and learn new ways of storytelling! What topics do poets touch on in their performances? How do they construct a narrative in just a few minutes of slamming? Which poems receive the highest scores?

Afterwards, introduce yourself to performers and make a special effort to remark on each poems’ message and style.

Writing prompts: What would happen if YOU were selected to be a judge? What would YOU perform if you were to take the stage yourself?

Adventure #2 – Show up to work in your vintage finest

Vintage and thrift stores, in addition to giving good quality second-hand clothes a new life, are known for being a great source of one-of-a-kind items.

Whether you’re a vintage/thrift store newbie or a genius at finding used garments that are appropriate for every occasion, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to kick your wardrobe up a notch. Purchase a thrift/vintage store ensemble–we’re talking head-to-toe awesomeness–that might raise a few eyebrows at work. While you don’t want to get yourself sent home (or worse!) for scandalous hemlines or accessories that that violate safety requirements, put together an ensemble of mismatched colors and patterns and odd combos. What about a ten gallon hat with a demure dress from the ’50s … and rain gollashes?

Is wearing vintage to work totally out of the question? No problem. Wear your zany outfit to another serious and important place, like a city hall meeting or a parent-teacher conference. The trick is to keep a straight face and conduct business as usual.

Writing prompts: Describe the most memorable reaction to your outfit. How does your self-image change when you wear clothes that aren’t “you”?

Adventure #3 – Find the best chocolate cake your city has to offer

Everybody likes dessert. But do you know which local restaurant offers the best fare? This is need-to-know information, folks. So your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go on a cake-tasting spree to find the best little taste of sweetness in your city.

Do your research in advance by reviewing menus, asking people you know for recommendations, reading online reviews. Then, pick the restaurants you want to visit. Be sure to bring friends!

Hate chocolate cake? No problem. Any dessert (or entree or side) will do.

Writing prompt: Write up a five-star customer review for the #BestCakeInTown, and post to social media. Don’t forget to add selfies and tag the restaurant! 

Adventure #4 – Spend the day in a part of town you never visit

We humans are creatures of habit and tend to traverse the same ol’ paths day in and day out. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to simply visit a part of your city you’ve never been in? Whether you live in a bustling metropolis or a village with one traffic light, chances are there are plenty of places you’ve never thought of to explore. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Skip the shopping promenade and visit the skateboard park instead.
  • Head over to the art district and be on lookout for multimedia installations.
  • Visit the business and commerce district and count the number of millennials in suits.

Bonus points if you wear your thrift store get-up and introduce yourself to strangers.

Writing prompt: How would your life change if you spent more time in this area?

Adventure #5 – Convert the top floor of a parking garage into a nightlife scene

A parking garage may seem mundane and even a place to avoid if you don’t like driving in circles. But if you make it to the top, you just may discover a great view! Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make the top THE spot for dinner with your friend group or a romantic date!

Several days in advance, scope out the garage for the hours when it’s the least crowded. Then, pack a tasty picnic, along with a blanket and candles. Before dinner, pick up your friends or special someone and claim the concrete! Stay until the sun goes down and the city lights go up!

Bonus points if you park at the bottom and take the stairs to the top.

Writing prompt: From your vantage point, what do you see that you never knew existed? 

A life with more adventures!

Other than having a lot more fun more often, you’ll notice that going on adventures like these offer additional benefits:

  • They get you out of the proverbial comfort zone.
  • They train your brain to notice opportunities–and stories!–that are right in front of you.
  • They acclimate you to doing what YOU want, regardless of the reactions you get from others.

So, writers, which of these adventures will you go on? Let us know how they go and what stories you write based on them! Be sure to find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share, using the hashtag #AdventuresForWriters!

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