There are a few writing gigs that make the average, would-be writer smile and stare off into space. To be a travel writer is to be free of the bounds of the everyday and live the life of an explorer. Or so we think as we ponder becoming a travel writer. The facts are that I am not becoming a travel writer, not really. Not in the sense that I am a freelance writing getting paid to recount my mild adventures as I travel about the country.
I still think about becoming a freelance travel writer, just as I sometimes think of being a copywriter, and don’t get much past the thinking stage. I am looking at a couple of the online freelance writer sites with the high hopes of making some real money with my words. But this will require structure, pace, timing, a beginning, middle, and end. I’ll have to act like a freelance writer if I want to paid like one. But I am just getting started.
I have read, or tried to read, a number of books on how to be a travel writer, how to become a travel writer, and just a ton of books on how to write. One of my favorite of these books is The Travel Writer’s Guide by Gordon Burgett, there are a number of editions of this fine little gem floating around which recount how Mr Burgett queries, writes, and sells his travel articles. Travel Writing by L.Peat O’Neil is another fun book that sounded a lot more useful than it turned out to be-the last edition was printed in brown ink on tan paper, which makes reading it a royal pain. These books are full of details and tricks of the trade and are, by and large, as dull as dishwater. I have found the other books I have read on travel careers to be pretty dry as well. But then, these are books about the real life business of being a travel writer, not the fantasy that we all have in our heads from watching the Accidental Tourist.
Real travel jobs are real work. Travel employment means staying in hotels you may not like, eating food you may not like, and not getting as much sleep as you may like. So I like the bits in the travel writing books about travel and writing, but there is all this other stuff about being a travel professional that I am not so sure about. The Travel Writer’s Handbook is another title that I had high hopes for, but somehow didn’t inspire me to actually be a travel writer. It’s not the authors of these books fault, it is all within myself. This doesn’t make me feel better though. Travel companies and travel advertising makes travel seem as easy as walking across the street. I could be just about anywhere in the world in two days time. And yet, I will be right here in two days time.
I still want to write travel articles, and I still want to sell them. I take pretty good photos and feel that I could do my own travel photography with not problems at all. I have a few ideas and have learned a few techniques. But I have never been good at editing what I write, as a casual reader of my blog might notice. But I still think about it-rather a lot. So I will order a new travel writing book and see if it can tell me how become a travel writer in words that I can understand and follow. Or at least be fun to read.
So if there is a real travel writer reading this, please let me know what it is like. Do I just need to bite the bullet and go for it? Should I take some kind of course? Well, you know writers love to put things off to the last minute.