Who Wants to Be a Travel Writer?

Tips for the Travel Writing Seekers
  |  Gorp.com
  • Keep a good journal . Nuts-and-bolts facts are fine but they are readily available from guidebooks and tourist office brochures. Rather than cluttering my journal with that stuff, I record the unique, quirky facts that convey authenticity and give a real sense of place or people.
  • Keep track of emotional reactions to experiences as well as actual expressions used by people with whom you talk. I often make drawings to help capture what I see.
  • Keeping a good journal trains the traveler to notice. My book, Traveler's Tool Kit, was greatly enriched by the dozen or more journals I had available from which to draw.
  • Train yourself to be a competent photographer and take lots of photographs and slides as you travel. An article about chess may not require photos, but without visual images a travel article will never get off the runway. Amelia's story about Bali, since she has few photos, has no future beyond the church bulletin.
  • Read books by fine travel writers. Train yourself to appreciate their style and content. Everyone has their own favorites, of course, and here are some of mine: Tim Cahill, Bruce Chatwin, Joseph Conrad, Isak Dinesen, Peter Fleming, Tom Friedman, Nadine Gordimer, Graham Greene, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala,
    D. H. Lawrence, Norman Lewis, Beryl Markham, Peter Matthiessen, Dervla Murphy, Wilfred Thesiger, and Evelyn Waugh.
  • Read travel publications : magazines (for writing quality, Outside is my favorite), guidebooks, newspaper travel sections, and articles on the best Web sites (such as GORP).
  • Read at least a couple of books that specifically teach travel writing.
  • Learn to write an effective query letter . Take a look at Writer's Digest magazine and the writing section of your bookstore.
  • To establish credibility , build your list of published work. Write for your neighborhood association newsletter and the county agricultural roundup. Forget about the money and publish anywhere that will have your work. Train yourself to write for a specific readership, to polish your writing, and to meet a deadline.
  • To make it a career, plan to sell each story several times. One woman I know won't write an article until she's lined up five places to publish it. Each article has a different emphasis, but they all stem from the same basic research.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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