Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor, Michele Bigley! Michele is teaching a new course this summer, The Art of Travel Writing, and sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and her upcoming course.

1) What sparks your creativity?

Everything sparks my creativity. A man yelling at me as he makes an illegal left turn, a story from my pilates teacher about a bird battering her window. The world is a curious and strange environment and I use writing as a way to understand our place within.
Most of all, I use travel to inspire me. Stepping out into foreign lands, or even allowing myself new eyes to view my community, always opens my creativity.

2) What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?

When getting to the page is tough–whether it be because time or energy or life is rough–I try to remind myself that I am always in a creative space, even when not sitting in front of my laptop. As a mom, and a traveler, life does not always afford me endless hours to write. I take what I can get, try not to waste that time on social media or wishing I had more time or space. Instead, I try to make each sitting an act of commitment to the long term efforts of the work. Some days I write words that will never show up in the final draft. Some days the writing flows. I step to the page without expectation and on those days when the writing doesn’t come, I get up, and take a walk on the beach, knowing that marinating on an idea is also a form of writing. No matter what, I try to come back the next day, ready to go. And if I don’t, I try not to be too hard on myself. For some, the moments of not writing are a part of their writing process.

3) What’s your favorite book and/or movie?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a fictional masterpiece. For writing about place, I love books with a clear focus that use travel as way to unravel the depths of their topic. Authors like Mark Hertagaard, Eric Weiner, and Rebecca Solnit do this quite well.

4) What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?

The students. I love the fact that I get to work with people who are serious about craft. I also appreciate the chance to share the fundamentals of travel writing (including the ethics of this work) with people who love both travel and writing.

5) What do you hope your students get from your course(s)?

I hope students can use this class as a space to expand their craft. While we will learn about travel writing as a genre and a business, my hope is that through prompts, lectures, and insights from a collection of visiting writers and editors, I can deliver the understanding that all genres (fiction, travel writing, YA) are rooted in solid writing. Ideally, students can work on mastering their craft and apply this to their travel narratives.

Thank you to Michele for taking time to share with us. Look for more instructor interviews coming soon!


Bree is the Assistant to the Director and Social Media Coordinator. You can email her at btodish@uclaextension.edu.

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