Ten years of Travel Writing & Reading With A Writer’s Eyes

I was so excited when, way back in 2011, my name topped my first article published in MMM. Although it has happened many times since, the thrill of seeing my name in print still remains. Having sharpened my pen working as a volunteer on a community newspaper in Preston and writing my own travel blog, I dipped my toes into paid writing. That first article was a short light-hearted piece about campsite showers. It was the following year that I had a full article published about our campervan and my first travel article was published in 2013. From this slow start I gradually became a regular contributor for MMM and more recently for Campervan Magazine and occasionally other publications.

As well as contributing, I also subscribe to MMM and Campervan Magazine and I continue to read them cover to cover every month. I read with interest what is new in the campervan and motorhome world and I am constantly inspired by the wonderful trips other travel writers make in their ‘vans. If someone else’s trip sounds like just the sort of thing we would do I will scan and keep a copy of the article for future reference before the magazine goes into the recycling box.

Although digital copies are available, I spend so much of my time looking at screens editing photographs, writing and reading some of the excellent blogs out there, I prefer to get a hard copy that I work my way through over a mug of tea. I might curl up in a chair in the afternoon and read MMM or Campervan Mag but I most often read them during our leisurely retirees breakfast time.

For me, writing and reading go hand-in-hand. This isn’t so that I can copy other writers although I do find that reading good travel writing sparks ideas in my head. I will make connections about places and themes to write about next; I might get ideas for how I can structure an article or construct sentences differently in the future; and I learn how I can improve my writing to interest or inform readers better. Every writer has their own voice that shines through the pages and I can only be myself as I write but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful to see how someone else does it.

Reading good travel writing inspires me to be a better writer but bad writing can help me recognise where I might make mistakes too. As Anne Lamott pointed out:

One reads with a deeper appreciation and concentration, knowing now how hard writing is, especially how hard it is to make it look effortless. You begin to read with a writer’s eyes. You focus in a new way. You study how someone portrays his or her version of things in a way that is new and bold and original.

Writing is never effortless. Typing just 2,000 words that are coherent, absorbing and represent an authentic experience for a travel article takes considerable time and effort and I don’t always meet the standards I set for myself. I am in awe of anyone who has the ability to write enough words for a whole travel book and I am grateful that many wonderful authors have the imagination to write novels. Although I think I still have something new to say, I am clear about and happy to accept my limitations and I don’t intend to put myself under the pressure of writing anything longer.

Travel writing is more than having an engaging style and good grammar, it also has to take readers to a place and give a flavour of the destination. I enjoy telling stories from places we visit, sharing nuggets of history that interest me and I include a variety of activities so that each article and blog post is relevant to different readers. We would happily spend an entire holiday walking and cycling but I try to be inclusive and varied. The starting point of each of my travel articles is a trip of our own, I pay my own way and the priority is that we have a good time! So no matter how much readers might like to vicariously experience sky-diving or deep water swimming through one of my travel articles I won’t be giving those things a go just for the sake of good copy!

If I make mistakes, I am sorry but few people are perfect. If my writing looks effortless then I have done a good job. And always, thank you to everyone for reading!

Author: Back on the Road Again Blog

I write two blogs, one about my travels in our campervan and living well and frugally and the second about the stories behind the people commemorated in memorial benches.

7 thoughts on “Ten years of Travel Writing & Reading With A Writer’s Eyes”

  1. Good post Carol. How time flies indeed – I’ve been submitting articles since 2013, starting off with a “Final Pitch” and like you, follow similar principles & standards of presentation, and hope I reach them! There’s quite an art to it and everyone, as you say, speaks with a different voice. Congratulations on your 10 years – and I too, prefer the real hard copy!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you for those kind words Carol – I always read and enjoy your articles & I know what a lot of work goes into them. Nowt much to write about in these days of being grounded, but we have plans. In the meantime I’m writing up all the road trips we’ve done with our family in the US, just to keep the wheels oiled & for family only.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The beginning of your travel writing career coincided with the beginning of our retirement when we finally had time to travel. So thank you for your inspirational articles that have helped us discover so many places. Your passions are so similar to ours; if you like a place we are confident that we will too!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much. Sounds like we are bound to meet up somewhere, one day! You will recognise our Blue Bus. I hope you are continuing to enjoy retirement and I am sure, like us, you are looking forward to getting out travelling again soon.

      Like

  3. Wow – congratulations on 10 years of writing success!
    Success in getting published, which can only happen because you are a success in writing something enjoyable to read.
    I always look forward to your articles – you always have something interesting to say. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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