10 things I learnt writing my first travel blog (Sunsets & Volcanoes: The Best Beer) and why I want to win the travel writing scholarship with World Nomads.
1. It’s harder than I thought.
Whenever I come home from a trip I regale my friends and family with your tales of my adventures – and there are usually adventures to tell because I’m one of those people who has that type of luck – you know where something goes wrong and is terrifying at the time, but makes for a hilarious conversation around the dinner table a couple of months later. So how hard can it be to write an entertaining, descriptive travel discovery in 500 words? Turns out very hard, and time consuming.
2. It takes longer than I expected
Whilst I can replay a memory in my head in five minutes flat it takes much long to turn that visual memory into a written story, especially into a story that you want someone you never met to engage with, to get them to smile when you smiled and cry when you cried – or at least feel like crying with you instead of laughing at you. It takes some honing and re-writing to get this across, in fact…
3. It takes skill to evoke emotions
It easy to say I felt happy at the top of the volcano and I felt like crying whilst clinging to the donkey for dear life. But it’s harder to describe how I felt without stating it as a fact. It’s even harder to get someone else to feel that for you – remember that high definition video replay of memory you run in your head and the parts that make you smile, well on paper that can come across a bit flat.
This is one of the reasons I want, no…need to win this writing scholarship with World Nomads so I can master the art of evocative writing and write better stories for you to read.
4. Writing without clichés is nigh on impossible
See reference to clinging on to donkey for dear life. There are just some phrases and clichés that are so ingrained in our day to day speech that I can’t avoid the when I’m writing.
5. Editing down to a word count takes longer than writing the thing in the first place
After the first edit my story just sounded like a timeline, after the 2nd edit it was more like a Wiki entry of facts, figures and prices, the 3rd was more like a review or trip advisor, the 4th…let’s just say it took a lot of rewrites to get a result I was going for.
6. Some descriptions just need to be accompanied by a picture
When you have a strict word count, you need a picture to paint a thousand words(cliché again I know) but no matter how good your powers of description if you are trying to explain something that you’ve just seen for the first time, that just doesn’t exist in your home country, or continent words just aren’t enough.
7. I realised that the story I thought I wanted to write, wasn’t the story I wanted to tell
Somewhere after the 4th rewrite I realised that I didn’t want to tell people about the best beer, I didn’t want to tell them about the logistics of the trip, actually I wanted them to feel the euphoria of drinking a beer in a beautiful place, feeling smug at having survived the trip up and desperately not wanting to embark on the journey back down
8. I realised that I wanted to win this competition for the writing scholarship
I entered the writing scholarship because I wanted to win a free trip to America, I wanted to be given a reason to start writing a travel blog and kick sat my own travel plans. I picked an itinerary of places that I wanted to experience.
But by the time I completed my application I wanted to win the writing scholarship to improve my powers of description, to bring my stories to life in a way that other people feel like they were there with me experiencing those sights, sounds and tastes that come with discovering a new place for the first time.
9. I want to write better stories for my readers
I want to write stories that people want to read, that they enjoy reading, that inform, entertain or inspire them to travel, meet new people and try new things.
10. I don’t just want to travel: I want a purpose
I want a reason for travelling beyond just travelling for my own pleasure, to share that pleasure with others through travel writing.
To read my entry, head on over to World Nomads, Sunsets and Volcanoes: The Best Beer
but don’t forget to come back and let me know what you think in the comments below – what would have made it better or more enjoyable to read?