Creative Process

On Writing In Mexico

By December 20, 2014 17 Comments

Millie Ho

The way I write is unrelatable and downright weird. I need cinematic stimulus when I write, concentrate best when I’m listening to music, and enjoy writing in a moving vehicle.

The same loose format applies for when I edit.

In this way, I’m lucky. But also cursed.

While I’m flexible with my external environment, the exact opposite is true for my inner headspace. This means that I continuously search for better writing environments so I can finish the novel.

Millie Ho Mexican Beach

Going to Mexico to write, therefore, might be the best decision I ever made.

Why? Was it:

a) The surplus of vitamin D (non-existent in wintery Toronto)
b) The relaxed way they do things here (leading by example)


c) The fact that this was the first time I went to a foreign country purely to write (instead of, say, attending a funeral)
Millie Ho Mexican Scenery

If you guessed e) All of the above, ding ding ding!

After the horror that was my month-long attempt at consolidating seven different drafts of one story into one solid final draft, I was on the fast path to burnout. I needed a change in pace and a change in place.

Millie Ho Writing Mexico Starbucks

Somebody once said that you find yourself when you travel. Somebody also said that you need to try stuff to see what works.

I agree with both.

Millie Ho Mexican Children

I’m now clearing 2,500 to 3,000 words a day, and they’re actually quality words.

Millie Ho Cuban Cafe

Editing has also become easier. When you’re eating in a Cuban restaurant that once serviced Ernest Hemingway, you get a certain renewed strength.

Millie Ho Elmore Leonard

I’m also reading more. Elmore Leonard is a great travel companion, and whenever I’m stuck on a passage or plot development, I just whip out Rum Punch and let my characters do all the hard work.

Millie Ho Frida Kahlo

I thank Mexico’s culture.

Millie Ho Puerto Vallarta

The scenery.

Millie Ho Mexican Man on Horse

And the people.

Milile Ho Avocado

And the comically huge avocados.

A foreign country gives you permission to write the story that only you can write.

Millie Ho Writing in Mexico Sunset

Especially when they have scenes like this.


Millie’s Note: Where do you write the best?

Join the discussion 17 Comments

  • mihrank says:

    This is such wonderful blog and a great method joining the trip to those destinations!

  • andy1076 says:

    The last shot is breathtaking.. sounds like you found your writing and exploration paradise 🙂

  • kvennarad says:

    “…Somebody once said that you find yourself when you travel…”

    Jings! If I travelled, with my agoraphobia I’d find myself in the middle of a panic attack! Writing is how I travel in my mind. I get to times and places where I’ve never been.

    I can only write right here, at my computer. Although as I recall, I did write my first prize-winning short story in a notebook, as I sat at a huge picture window overlooking a loch, in the far North of Scotland.

    Millie, I hope you do finish the raw draft of Nash Moor by the 31st, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t. I say that even though I’m dying to read it.


  • Whatever works is what one should pursue. Glad to hear that YOU are working well:)

  • I need to be in the right place mentally rather than physically. Really beautiful places distract me though. 🙂 If I were sitting on that beach, I’d probably just say, “Screw it. I’m on the beach.”

  • You know, that somewhat worked because it was a crummy place with morning drunks around me, and I felt sort of stuck there, which is good for writing. But I stopped going because I noticed I was writing, but it was just crap. It felt really forced. So now when I have writer’s block, I just don’t write. I figure it’ll come to me if I let it go. Maybe do some reading instead. But I’m not on any sort of timeline, except that I have to get in a few pages to my writer’s group every month. I would probably do better with one, though!

  • that restaurant is really special, a place to go for sure. But too far away from europe!

  • At the moment I’m guessing that the place I’d write best would be: anywhere I could hide. A hut in the Himalayas would be ideal, provided it had a well-stocked bar, and 240v power.
    And a fireplace.

    I’d probably need a yak or something to produce combustible fuel as well. Hell this is getting complicated. Maybe Mexico would be better.

    Glad you’re back by the way!

  • Wow Millie, just wonderful! Two days to go… good luck!

  • Well they do say we have to feed the Muse. Love how you devoted the trip just to writing…that’s how to do it. For now, I have to travel in my mind, but I would like to have a writing destination some day, and be anonymous somewhere for no greater purpose than that. Happy New Year!

  • Ariana says:

    Your journey is so amazing, Millie! I love checking in on your progress. <3

  • Karen Wan says:

    Sounds like a great way to reinvigorate your writing! I love traveling, I had never thought of going somewhere else to finish and edit my novel. I’m going to have think about this idea!

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