Writing from the Road
Thanks to Tim Bishop, for sharing his thoughts on writing from the road in this guest post. Tim and his wife, Debbie, will be touring through mid-September, writing as they go. Read on to learn about how and why they write.
When writing creeps into your bloodstream, it becomes an innate expression of your life experiences, whether or not it covers your bills. You write because you love it…and because you must. When those inflicted with this “bug” embark on one of life’s adventures, they have no choice but to write about it.
Such is the case in a recent endeavor my wife, Debbie, and I have undertaken. We’re cycling across America promoting an organization known as TheHopeLine, for which we both volunteer as “hope coaches” to people aged 13-29. Our goal is to raise awareness of and needed funds for the organization’s mission. More specifically, we’re asking God to send TheHopeLine $100,000 through our meager love offering.
A long-distance bicycle tour is all about logistical challenges, solving problems, and managing one’s time. The bicycling and the sightseeing that comes with it, are the enjoyable and more relaxing aspects of a tour. When the daily cycling ends, clean up, nutrition, documenting the adventure, and resting tired and sore bodies become the focus. We bicycle 60-70 miles per day on average, and we may be out on the road for 8-12 hours. So, how does one who tours fit in writing about it?
Tools of the Touring Trade
- Visuals are an important aspect of bicycle touring. They help tell the story. Downloading photos and videos from $100 digital point-and-shoot cameras is part of the daily routine of documenting the experience. We also use a helmet camera for video while in motion.
- Writing tools need to be lightweight on the road. We each use a netbook computer, which provides us with a full keyboard, yet keeps the weight we carry a bit lighter than computers with more horsepower.
- Tracking the miles helps us remember the details. A bicycle computer (Garmin Edge) provides statistics that we track and incorporate as appropriate into our writing. Those data are uploaded to a Garmin website for archival and linking to our own online content.
Data Dump… or Lose It.
The pictures and statistics reinforce the written content, and act as lures for prospective readers. The visual content also helps remind us what we experienced. When tomorrow comes, it’s time to start all over again…and yesterday’s experience becomes obscured by today’s adventure. Bicycle travel is slow enough to allow one to absorb powerful sensory impulses, yet fast enough to overstimulate the senses. There’s so much to absorb that you don’t notice when traveling at higher speeds by car.
On this particular tour, it has been important to allow enough flexibility for God to inspire our words, and even determine our content. Every day on the bicycle is unique. You feel the theme of the day through the landscape and the people with whom you connect. Sharing about TheHopeLine allows us more creativity than simply creating a travelogue every day. It also provides readers with a diversified experience. Sometimes, when ideas or inspiration strikes me while I’m on the road, I jot notes down and toss them into my handlebar bag. But that is more the exception than the rule. You really don’t have sufficient time to stop frequently, so most of the impressions accumulate in your mind. At the end of the day, you must dump them, whether in note form or in final format, or risk losing them. When you write down your memories and ideas, the most important content percolates to the surface.
Most of what Debbie and I choose to communicate takes into account our impressions of our travel, our experience and calling as hope coaches, and our brand. We share our experience via a blog, www.openroadpress.com, and Facebook posts. Ultimately, our brand is hope. We married for the first time late in life, the answer to long-standing prayers. We believe God can redeem all past sins and disappointments. So, we write from a positive perspective to encourage others. We trust that God will connect those that need to hear our message with our content.
After a bicycle tour like the one we embarked on right after we married in 2010, a book seemed like the appropriate vehicle with which to inspire others. Debbie and I co-authored Two Are Better: Midlife Newlyweds Bicycle Coast to Coast, which released in 2013. It took work, re-writing and editing to turn our daily experiences and blog entries into a book with an underlying plot and a thematic thread throughout, but we are pleased with the final product and the positive responses we’ve received.
With our book, as well as with our current tour, we know we can’t keep our journey to ourselves. We know that when God blesses you with an opportunity like cycling across America to spotlight the wonderful work of TheHopeLine, it’s imperative to share that experience with others. The fundraising aspect of our adventure demands that we communicate effectively. We’ve found that in sharing the journey, we are better able to savor our experiences.
Originally from Maine, Tim Bishop has over 30 years of experience in business, first as a CPA, then for many years in various roles in the corporate world. In addition to consulting for small businesses, Tim serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reach, rescue and restore hurting teens and young adults. Tim co-authored Two Are Better with his wife, Debbie, to share their first long-distance bicycle tour together.