Remember That Time I Went to France?

Before April 2017, I could never say something like, “Remember that time I went to France?”

I know plenty of people who’ve been to Europe, including all the people I know who live in Europe, but I hadn’t made it there myself until a recent trip with Cruising Writers. I attended a week-long writers workshop/retreat at a château in the French countryside. If that sounds fabulous, you’re right—it was fabulous. Here’s where we were:

View of the Chateau
Chateau Les Carrasses

Yes, a view like that is inspirational. It was a peaceful setting where I could devote attention to story ideas and to my writing.

We also had workshops with fabulous writing coach Margie Lawson, whose deep editing techniques are well-worth studying.

Julie & Margie
Margie Lawson & Me, in the vineyards

I met other amazing writers, who stoked my excitement, filled my well with wisdom, and wrote alongside me in settings like this one:

View from Our Window
Outside Terrace & Heated Pool, as seen from our room

We took brainstorming walks along the back roads flanked with vineyards and flowers in bloom. One of those walks even launched a new idea for a series I’m super-excited to start writing.

Curvy Road and Flowers
French Back Roads where the Muse Visited

This trip solidified my growing belief that new experiences make you a better writer. That could be visiting a museum in your city or it could involve an intercontinental flight and staying a countryside château in France. I’m definitely partial to travel—because you also experience a different setting and culture—but stepping outside your comfort zone matters most.

Now if you’re going to write about some place you haven’t been, I do suggest scheduling a visit. Because my pictures show only a snippet of my experience in France, which included the language, the food, the smells, the textures, the people, and much more. There’s no perfect substitute for being there.

But regardless, get out and experience new things. Hang out with other writers in various parts of their journey. Learn about writing craft and the publishing business from experts, like Margie and the others—which at this retreat included an agent, an editor, a literary translator, and a Kobo representative.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to see more, do more, learn more, check out the next trip planned by Cruising Writers. I’ll be on this September cruise headed to Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and Cozumel, along with writing experts Lisa Cron (author of Wired for Story and Story Genius) and Angela Ackerman (author of The Emotion Thesaurus, The Setting Thesaurus, and much more).

In the meantime, let me leave you with one more photo from France. It’s quite an experience to watch the sunrise over the vineyards. This picture doesn’t fully capture the awesome view, but here you go:

Sunrise (Again) Over the Vineyard
The Sun Also Rises…in France

Au revoir!

7 thoughts on “Remember That Time I Went to France?

  1. It’s been good to start seeing your blog posts again, Julie. Seems like there was a long dry spell without them. I still have the photo of you and Ingrid and Donna in your jeans and Western boots as well as one of you and Jess and one of you and Kristen at Angelo’s BBQ. Fun to glance back at them once in a while.

    1. There was a dry spell, but I’m getting back into writing more on the blog. Thanks so much for continuing to stop by. Soon, I’ll share some photos of me and Donna in London!

  2. It looks like you had a wonderful time! I loved going to France–a lot of years ago. I completely agree with you about going to visit a place you write about. Doing research online doesn’t always give a complete and accurate picture of the setting. We went to Maui a few summers ago, and I was able to visit several locations I’d written about in a middle grade book–places I got wrong just relying on internet research. I wish I could go on the September cruise. It sounds like another amazing trip!

  3. WOW! Looks incredible! What an amazing experience, Julie. Can’t wait to hear about the new series. And I totally agree that experiences and travel and trying new things help us become better writers. Glad you got to savor this experience. Cheers!

Comments are closed.