Travel writing is new to me. I know nothing about it and so I have challenged myself to allow it to be my 2018 resolution – to figure out what it is, to do it well and to do it often.
All that I know about travel writing is that each story is meant to be as unique as the person writing it and that the main focus should always be on becoming a better writer.
I have no destination in mind or even the thought of travelling anywhere in particular. Instead, I want to learn to find the story in whatever place that I happen to be in and go from there.
I don’t think that travel writing, like any other writing, can be taught. We need to practice to find our way to our own voice and it comes with time. Nevertheless, there are certain methods that can be learned to make storytelling and sharing more effective.
I recently took a travel writing course that I really enjoyed and I wanted to share some notes on the subject that I have found useful.
Focus your travel stories. Focus your travel stories on a specific topic, a discovery or a transformative event that happened to you on your journey and share a deeper truth you learned that your readers can connect to.
Focus your own voice. Yes, almost every destination in the world has been covered but not by your voice and your experience. Put your unique spin on the travel story you are writing to make it new again.
Keep a travel journal. Keep a travel journal where you can freewrite without censoring your thoughts. Collect as many vivid details as possible – this is the raw material that will eventually be used in your final piece. Be meticulous in your fact checking.
Watch your adjectives. Avoid empty adjectives – amazing, beautiful, delicious and incredible – these words tell your readers nothing. Be as descriptive as you can so that your readers can travel with you.
Record both the inner and outer journey. Don’t forget to include your own personal inner journey. What do you see, hear, taste, smell and feel?
Look for the stories that only you can write. Listen to your intuition. Keep a running list of story ideas. Write at least 600 to 800 words.
Keep a travel blog. It’s a good way to get your stories and your name out into the world. It is also a place where you can test ideas and publish at will.
Simplicity. Keep things simple, be curious, focus on your writing and write what is on your mind.
Pay attention to structure. Well written travel stories include an attention grabbing lead, action and dialogue that move the story forward and a conclusion that is meaningful to the reader.
I’ve found it more helpful to spend my time reading the work of other travel writers then reading travel blogs or magazines. Overall the quality of the work is better. It tends to be more thoughtful, unique and it introduces you to various structures of travel writing that you can learn from. I love reading blogs and magazines but sometimes I find them repetitive and lacking a unique point of view
Your travel stories are important – they have the potential to share an experience with another person who might not be able to experience the journey otherwise. Share what is most meaningful – share the details that bring your story alive and allow the reader to journey with you.