All Posts in Category: Traveling
If you have never tried it, the short-term (s*ht gets done) and long-term (you can 30,000-foot perspective on how you spend your time and what you’re really doing with your travel writing) benefits of taking an individual writer’s retreat are addicting.
At a conference recently, I heard author, restaurateur and actor Madhur Jaffrey explaining that she doesn’t know how her recent book would have gotten done if she hadn’t spent a week more or less in bed surrounded by papers working and sleeping in equal fits, problems immersed in the text of her project.
But even if you’re not working on something on the scale of a book currently, a residency can also guide you to what it is you should be investing your time in more deeply, as this peek at the famed MacDowell residency explores:
When I first started coaching, running events, corralling writers for a website, and interviewing a lot of people for positions in a short period of time, I felt like a high school teacher.
I was receiving excuses right and left, insignificant and grave, for all sorts of things.
Event space managers delay getting me contracts because they’re sick (and apparently have no one else in the office of the major hotel they work at?), sponsorship chairs for conferences aren’t available to get me a sponsorship contract for months, and writers get me overdue in two weeks rather than two days because… well, I don’t think they actually even bother to explain themselves (and correspondingly aren’t due to be receiving any new assignments).
When The Six-Figure Travel Writing Road Map first came out, weighing in at more than a pound and featuring nearly 400 pages covering every facet of the travel writing life from the schedule to the rates, the negotiating tactics to lists of hundreds and hundreds of magazines to target, and templates for everything from pitches to mapping out your best writing hours, a lot of people asked me how long it took to write.
Typically, these people were:
(a) not full-time writers, and/or
(b) not people who had ever written a book-length work
Making Your Story About the Journey Rather than the Destination is a Easy Trick for Successful Pitching
I’ve been in a travel writing conference for the last couple days observing something very curious throughout the keynotes.
Both keynotes—one by Don George, who was formerly travel editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and Lonely Planet’s annual travel writing short story anthologies, and another by Spud Hilton, the current travel editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, who has won an obscene number of top travel writing awards in that position—focused on storytelling.
Each keynote was excellent, composed of a heavy dose of first-person experience layered with specific, well-articulated and vitally important tips of how to completely overhaul your stories for the better.
But at the end of both keynotes, both speakers were asked nearly identical questions along the lines of:
That all sounds great, but who is really publishing narrative stories like that right now? No one really wants to publish stories about the writer’s experiences with other cultures.
After this question, in both cases, a very curious thing happened.
Working on front-of-book pieces has several key benefits we’ve discussed, especially honing your ability to write short and journalistically.
But one of my favorites is that it offers you a venue to use all sorts of excess pieces of research that you collect on your trips with the most minimal investment of additional research.
This week, during our winter Freelance Travel Writing Bootcamp, a very interesting question has come up several times.
It’s a very common situation that travel writers find themselves in.
During the bootcamp, we try as hard as possible to stimulate real-world circumstances in our afternoon tours. The bootcamp focuses through morning lessons and afternoon outings on honing your ability to find stories out in the world wherever you are. And one of the realities of traveling as a travel writer is that not everything you see is interesting to you personally.
This week, we’ve got a special webinar double header week since I was out with the flu last week, and we’re also doing a very different mini-series.
We’ve looked in the past at a lot of facets of free travel that are specific to travel writers:
- Setting Up Sponsored Travel 101: How free travel really works for travel writers.
- How to Set Up an Individual Trip From Scratch: The ne plus ultra of press trips are the ones you design yourself.
- Getting a Spot on a Group Press Trip or Fam: Cracking the code for getting offers and acceptances for scheduled group press trips.
- Putting Together a Pitch Portfolio to Support a Big Trip: The simple secret to landing a spot on any press trip you’re interested in.
- What to Expect on Press Trips: What you can realistically expect from your press trips–the good and the bad.
- How to Prepare for Your Press Trip: What you get out of a press trip depends largely on what you put in.
- How to Get the Most (on the Ground) Out of Your Press Trips: Getting on a free trip is the easiest part. Leaving with saleable ideas is the real challenge.
But this week we’re talking about a totally different way to travel for free: trips you book yourself…but don’t pay for.
That’s the real dream, right?
Today’s holiday trivia: In many Asian traditions, odd numbers are lucky, and Japan is no exception. The 11th marks the festival of Kagami Biraki, which means “opening the mirror,” and implies the end of a period of abstinence. The celebration began with the samurai in the 15th century and continues in the judo martial art tradition today, as well as in private homes, to whack open sake barrels with wooden mallets, drink the sake from specially made square wooden cups, and break upon and share a mochi (traditional japanese rice and red bean sweet).
Ever since we laid our eyes on what is now our 3,400-square-foot writing retreat in the Catskills, we knew it had to be used for one thing: a place for writers, editors, bloggers, and other creatives to come and do deep work, like…
- finishing a first draft of a book
- editing a documentary
- processing a huge batch of photos from a trip you’ve just wrapped up
- banging out an entire month’s worth of blog posts
- finishing some big feature assignments
- recording a series of videos for your audience
- writing the materials for a course you’re planning to launch
Today’s holiday trivia: An important British holiday tradition has been the day when a lord’s subjects would come wassailing. Today, we think of wassailing as singing carols and spreading good cheer, particularly when doing so door to door, but this tradition initially was intended to replace begging and offer peasants a specific opportunity to receive food and drink—especially figgy puddings—from the wealthy. The food-gifting aspect continues today, often in unusual forms, such as the London’s Drury Lane Theatre’s tradition since 1795 of proving cake and punch for the resident theater company each January 6.
If you are new to travel writing, there is no doubt one thing that seems the golden goal for marking your successful entry into this work: scoring a spot on a free trip for travel writers.
I’ve seen this as a goal for many folks who joining us for our 5-week annual review and 2018 planning process this winter.
And if this is one of your goals this year, I’ve got great news for you:
Setting up free trips as a travel writer is dead simple.
You go somewhere a.maze.ing.
You take *tons* of photos.
The light is even fantastic, even though the weather forecast was crap.
All in all you can’t believe your luck (because we all know how easy it is to plan a big day of shooting only to have it foiled by weather, equipment issues, construction, or an entirely unrelated personal emergency), and you are sure you have a memory card full of excellent shots to sell, use on social, and support an epic photo essay on your blog.