Who doesn’t want to be a travel writer? For many people, that’s like achieving two dreams in one. As with any industry, success is driven by a combination of passion and talent – and getting your work in front of the right person.
If you’re experiencing disappointment trying to make your dreams reality, here are 4 tips to help shift into the right mindset and stay focused on your target.
1. Believe successful writers when they tell you their stories
Some writers mistakenly believe they’re going to be an overnight success because their work is so amazing it can’t possibly go unnoticed. This belief is both a blessing and a curse. It can be a curse because it sets you up for disappointment when your work gets continually rejected. It happens to everyone, and will probably happen to you.
Believe established writers when they tell you they didn’t become a success overnight, and they didn’t get discovered by publishing an article and hoping for the best. They achieved success because they started writing whenever and wherever they could, and they kept writing no matter what.
Elizabeth Gilbert shares her wisdom, “I believe that – if you are serious about a life of writing, or indeed about any creative form of expression – that you should take on this work like a holy calling. I became a writer the way other people become monks or nuns. I made a vow to writing, very young… I built my entire life around writing… I didn’t know anyone who had ever become a writer. I had no, as they say, connections. I had no clues. I just began.”
If all you have in your busy day is ten minutes, then write for ten minutes. Soon you may find yourself skipping meals, sleep, and even showers just to have more time to write. When that happens, you’ll know you’re on the right track.
2. Value yourself and your time
If a company wants to gift you an all-expenses paid trip in exchange for your writing, think about it before jumping in. On the surface, this sounds like a great opportunity, but if you’re not being paid, who’s going to pay your bills while you’re gone?
Related: Not Sure What to Charge? The Freelance Switch Hourly Rate Calculator Gives You a Good Idea Where to Start
Don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of when you’re hungry to write. If an offer doesn’t make sense for you financially, or if it will put you out more than the experience itself is worth, don’t be afraid to turn down the offer.
On the other hand, if the opportunity is unique and calls to you, find a way to cover your bills while you’re gone and get on that plane! Never turn down an opportunity just because you’re not getting paid.
3. Find a way to make writing your primary focus in life
If you’ve tried everything and can’t seem to make traveling work at this time, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, start writing as if you’re traveling. Immerse yourself in videos from the History Channel, and documentaries about places you’ve always wanted to visit. Close your eyes and imagine you’re there.
For instance, if you’ve always wanted to visit Rome, find out what’s awe-inspiring about Rome and picture yourself in the scene. Then, write about your experience, but make it unique.
Everyone writes about the Coliseum, but who writes about Castel Sant’Angelo? Built by Emperor Hadrian for his final resting place, this stunning Roman castle was converted to house for popes, was turned into a prison, a fortress, and now a museum. It’s connected to the Vatican through an underground passage used by popes to escape attacks.
Be sure to publish a footnote with your articles to mention the piece is a work of creative fiction, to maintain transparency and trust as a writer. Making this known doesn’t mean your work won’t get noticed. If you can write a beautiful piece of fiction based on an imagined experience, your skills as a writer may stand out even more.
4. Incorporate personal experiences into your stories.
You won’t land yourself a gig as a travel writer just by having perfect grammar. Writing perfectly detailed descriptions won’t make your stories captivating. You need to pour your heart and soul into your work. You need to develop a unique voice for telling irresistible stories people can’t put down.
Who are you? What’s important about where you’re traveling? What worldview has been transformed by your experiences? What new emotions are you experiencing? What cultural differences were surprising, shocking, or appalling?
Without personal experience, you may as well be writing a history book.
As with every dream, you need to keep at it. If you really want to become a travel writer, you can get there.