Introducing the Course
WELCOME! I'm excited to share this course about travel writing, an activity I'm very passionate about. As a lifelong writer--I started journaling when I was in 2nd grade--I have been fascinated by the inner journey as well as the outer.
I hope this course helps motivate you to write about your travels, whether for publication or for personal gratification.
I have a particular fondness for the layering process, which is not the first lesson, but well worth waiting for. Hint: It's not about correcting, shortening, or fixing, but about enriching your story by going over it again and again, remembering every single thing about it.
You know the saying dance like nobody's watching? Well... write like nobody's watching! You can always edit it out, later if you decide to publish.
For now, it's me time.
I hope you enjoy the course, and I very much hope you'll comment on every lesson. I love writing, talking about writing, learning more about writing, teaching writing, and I'm a committed editor. I love to get it right when I share my ideas.
So please let me know what you liked, what you want more of, less of, were confused about, didn't like. Okay?
Writing is a lonely task, but we're in it together!
PS: I am working to add more video lessons to talk it through, so please give me your feedback and stay tuned. You have forever access!
PSS: I am not enabling downloads of the media for this course, yet... as I develop and update it. I may enable downloads later, but I'm not sure. You can access the course when you're online via your web browser or smartphone by logging into the course.
This is the writing exercise from the above video.
Spend five minutes telling a story about something surprising that happened during your travels. Something that caught you off guard. Reach back into your memory and see how much sensual detail you can write into the scene. This may require writing slowly, thinking, and reliving the moment. What was the weather, the landscape, the road, the people around you.
Do you need an example? Here is what I wrote.
I am setting up my tent in the field with the baobab tree. The woman who appears from out of nowhere has beads of sweat where her hair meets her forehead, delicate wispy strands sticking to her forehead. The child behind her tugs at my tent, which for now, lies flat on the golden dry grass. A fly buzzes loudly, and the heat sends the scent of dry dirt in waves into the air around us.
Another child arrives, and another, and now several more and they all have their little hands on everything, my tent and my tent stakes, my bicycle panniers, now they’re taking my bicycle away. The woman speaks to me in a language I will never learn, I try French, but she continues, holding me by the wrist…
And I added this a couple days later…
gently pulling me with her. The children are disappearing into the tall green and yellow grass with my things, I look back, yes, everything is gone, my cooking stove, the blanket and sleeping bag… I don’t have time to look for more, we are walking fast and the yellow grass, the dying yellow grass is hitting my calves like thousands of tiny knives. There are bugs, those tiny ones that look like dust in the air, but they are filling my nose, and the sun is going down making everything golden.
We walk and walk and emerge into a clearing with walls of mud and straw the same color as the swept-clean earth. The woman still has my wrist, it is sweaty under her hand but she hasn’t let go and I feel like a child who has been naughty and captured and is going to be punished.
Inside the walls are huts. About a dozen of them, all the same muddy adobe and straw with roofs of woven grass, and there are the children standing around the pile of my things, some so small, with their fingers in their mouths, and there is another woman who has halted at her mortar, the big pestle half-raise, staring.
So this is just a scene, part of a story but I noticed it was quite a cliffhanger. It’s far, far from done. But I will enjoy working on it some more!
Do you want to share your free write? Put it in the discussion area below. Or if we are in a group workshop, share it in the appropriate folder in the Google Docs. Thanks!
What this course teaches - and does not teach
The kind of travel writing we'll work on in course is the kind that's harder to pull off. It's about the personal pieces, stories about your experience, stories that help others live it with you.
We're not working on simple, formulaic travel pieces such as:
- Best of's and roundups
- Advice articles
- Holidays and special events
- Travel news
- Weekend warrior
- Travel modes
These are pretty easy and I think that any writer with the motivation to write these kinds of stories can copy what's being done already. It's not that I think you should not write them. Au contraire, I think you should, if you're expert in a region or mode of travel, because it helps you grow your author platform and you might make a little money at it, too.
If you want to write in a more personal, more revealing way, this course is for you. I'm not saying you can't infuse yourself and your experiences in any of the above, there is some overlap, but what we're going for are the types of writing that requires the personal in the place.
- Lifestyle blog
Please let me know in the comments if you think I'm on track with this or you have other ideas about what kinds of travel writing is on the personal level. Do you get me?
I'd really love your feedback.
Take a look at the reading and resources PDF here
I'll probably be adding to and refining this list forever and I'd love your help. Got suggestions or resources? Let me know in the comments. It would be fun to get on a webinar every once in a while to talk about these.