So you’ve traveled around the world, eaten weird foods and, more importantly, taken down a few notes when you weren’t deciphering signs or leaping between train doors. It’s time to turn those shoddy handwritten bullet points into something decipherable and ideally pretty good. Here are some tips to get started on travel writing.
Tip 1 to Become A Travel Writer: Focus on The details
When taking notes, don’t talk about how you feel. Describe the colors, the noises. The ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where’ and ‘when’. Figure out the ‘why’ and ‘how’ later. Concentrate on the minutiae of your experience – what exact color was the curry? Descriptors for the young man’s voice who helped you with directions. Physical descriptors will give your readers something to hold on to.
Tip 2 to Become A Travel Writer: Models
If you want to write good travel writing, you should read good travel writing. I’m not talking about blogs and listicles about Paris’s top 10 tourist destinations for non-tourists. I mean quality writing. Great resources include The Paris Review, Matador Network, Nowhere Mag, and Longreads’s Travelreads section. Observing the different methods of travel writing can give you some guidance on how to find your own.
Tip 3 to Become A Travel Writer: Write a Lot
The first draft is the hardest. The moment your butt hits the seat, you’ll want to go back and re-write everything from the day before. Don’t. Concentrate on whacking out a first draft. When you’re done, give it a cursory glance and write out a completely separate draft. By this point the arc of the story will be clearer in your head, and you’ll be able to concentrate on the writing itself instead of the plot.
Tip 4 to Become A Travel Writer: Get Feedback
You’ve written a piece! Congratulations! Seriously, that is not an easy thing to do. Now what? Give a printed copy (trust me, no one will respond to your email) to trusted friends and writers you respect and ask for feedback. If they’re kind enough to say yes get them a drink or coffee to show gratitude. Then get all your edited copies, sit down and, you guessed it, write some more.
After you have your mostly finished piece, the rest is up to you. There are some great travel writing competitions you can submit your piece to. You can also try submitting it as an article to one of the websites listed above. Or start your own website or blog and chronicle your adventures there. Just keep scrawling notes, writing, editing, and re-writing.