I am loving this article by Pam, acclaimed travel writer and photographer over at Nerd’s Eye View. Her recent review of TBEX Europe ’12 was insightful and thought-provoking, but most of all, led me to this little gem about the travel writing format.
Everyone does it: when trying to encapsulate our emotions about a place, travel writing can sometimes come off more promotional than relevant. I struggle with this a lot – how do you make a place sound good without making it sound “good?” Even if you truly feel that the beaches of the Bahamas are “gorgeous beyond belief” or “the hot place to be in 2013,” it still sounds like someone paid you to say so.
However, Pam helped me evaluate how to “Travel Write, not Travel Wrong.” Of course, this insight is purely subjective and obviously, there is no absolute perfect way to write about travel. Above all, it is important to remember your purpose for writing. If you want to make travel more promotional, and if that’s your strength, go for it!
I especially love these few lines:
I am glad you had an awesome time on someone else’s nickel, now, can you tell me something genuinely interesting, new, insightful, enlightening, peculiar, maddening… about the destination? Or am I just reading about you and your friends (or a group of bloggers) having a good time? Whose voice am I hearing when I read about your travels? Yours or a voice heavily filtered to please a sponsor? When you sit down to write, do you think about who you’re writing for?
I started travel writing because I had stories that I wanted to tell. I have experiences that may be relatable, or may be totally distant. But I think sometimes my travels are interesting, and that my style of writing is different from other authors out there.
Pam put into perspective a form of travel writing I need to improve on. Are the words on the page genuinely interesting, or just something I think people want to hear? Is there a way I can craft my topics into narrative form so that it sounds less like an advertorial campaign and more like an adventure?
Or, think about it this way:
Many people write for travel in hopes that readers will live vicariously through them. They had such a good time at the Great Wall of China, why shouldn’t their readers feel the same way? Except, everyone’s travel experience is different. You may have thought the Eiffel Tower was “amazing and beautiful” and someone else might think it’s “ugly and out of place.” Instead of trying to replicate your trip for others, why not just share an experience you had? Don’t try to make it sound awe-inspiring, or critical, or preachy.
Just write it how you want to remember it, and let your readers have an adventure of their own.
What are some of your tips for travel writing?