Writing from the Road
Ten tips from a shameless vagabond blogger.
1) Live the adventure and the stories will follow. The first step to great travel writing is living the story and creating the content. Seek out the experiences you want to live and that others would enjoy reading. Think of yourself as the producer, writer, star and director of your own road movie. Cast great characters by meeting the locals and be bold in what you experience.
2) Take lots of photos and notes. Remember to record the adventure, while it’s happening. Don’t be shy. 98.6% of people are flattered if you take their photos. Appeal to their vanity by letting them know how interesting, beautiful, brilliant . . . they are and the world is your photographic oyster.
3) Shoot first and ask questions later. Keep snapping those photos and sort them all out later. Only amateurs take one shot. Take a few hundred and keep a dozen. After all, it’s only space on a disc card. Concentrate on framing the action and let the digital camera do all the technical magic.
4)Â See the extraordinary in the ordinary. Being the “outsider” gives you a fresh eye on what the locals may see as ordinary. See beyond the obvious and dig under the surface.
5) We don’t care what you had for breakfast. Unless it’s monkey brains, no one except perhaps your mother cares to read about your breakfast. Be poignant and inspiring. Not tediously boring and mundane.
6)Don’t write over the photos. Why describe what we can clearly see in the photos? Let your writing compliment and embellish your photos.
7)Shoot some video! The Web is now broadband multimedia. A video clip can give the viewer a real flavor of what you’re writing about. If a photo is worth a thousand words, just what is a video clip worth?
8)Write from your heart. Bring your heart to the story. How a place transforms and effects you is at least as important as the place. Be brutally honest with your viewer. But also be considerate enough to edit your writing so it’s coherent to those who weren’t there.
9)Share the Adventure! You’re lucky to be a free range human roaming outside a cubicle. Share all the wonder with those who can only live it vicariously for now. The days when travel journals languished in closets like note books from college is over. Try my favorite travel community at MatadorTravel.com
10)Read great travel writing. When I read a fantastic travel story, it reminds me of where the bar for excellence is set. Read anthologies of award winning travel writing and step it up.