Archive for July, 2010

Travel Writing Workshops

July 21, 2010

There’s a common misconception among the general public that some people can write and other people can’t. That writing is a mysterious gift, like singing, or perhaps rolling your tongue, that is god-given and can’t be taught. Those of course are the very people who think that a) they could never be a travel writer or b) that they are too talented too learn anything from a workshop about travel writing.

Naturally the opposite is true. Writing is by and large a skill. A very complex one, which is hard to teach, but one which we can definitely all get better at even bearing in mind a few basic principles. That being the case, doesn’t it make sense for all budding travel writers to do their best to access as much training as possible? That was certainly my approach when, the economic crisis having kicked in, I started considering my career options at the start of 2009. I’d already garnered several years experience writing for websites like Cracow Life, whilst working in Poland, and had even had one or two feature articles published, notably in Wizz Air Magazine and Click Air, and naturally a career in travel writing appealed – but was it really possible? When I saw (in The Guardian, I believe) that an established travel writer named Peter Carty was offering one day travel writing workshops in London I thought what the hell, maybe this is the push in the right direction I need … especially as it was only 115 quid! Even if I felt I might be a little advanced for some of the course’s content (with my typical over self-confidence!) I figured, at this price, I’d still get my money’s worth…

Anyway, if you haven’t guessed by now, this post is a plug for that very course and a big thank you to Mr. Carty for kick-starting my career in travel writing. I could tell you about everything I learned during the workshop, such as how to structure an article, the importance of kicking off a piece with a killer sentence, the sinister cliches a serious travel writer needs to avoid and – most importantly of all – how to get inside the mind of an editor and create a pitch that will have a great chance of getting commissioned. However the proof is in the pudding. Since taking Peter’s course I’ve gone from having one or two pieces published when an editor desperately needed something on Poland, to being able to sell regular articles to a contact list of editor’s I have slowly built up. The publications I have written for since the spring of 2009 (when I took the course) include Ryanair Magazine, Easyjet Magazine, Conde Nast Traveller (although they haven’t paid me yet… expect a post about them soon!), CNN Traveller, Jetaway and more. In fact I could have probably won many more commissions but I’ve chosen to concentrate more on my own web based projects for now (more on the very mysterious art form of making money from travel writing for the web another time. It’s not included on Peter Carty’s course, which concentrates on how to sell travel features – which is more lucrative in the short term and a great way to establish your career as a travel writer).

The timing of this post, quite a lot after I attended the course in question, isn’t because I’m the sort of ingrate who sends thank you letters to my auntie a full 15 months after receiving a birthday present, but rather because Peter has finally entered the digital age and launched his website… check it out.

If you hadn’t guessed by now I can’t recommend his course highly enough.