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Inside a Travel Writers Conference

If you’re on my newsletter list, or follow me on Twitter, you’ll know where I am as I write this post. It’s a little past 10pm on Thursday evening, and I’m in Corte Madera, California attending the 18th Annual Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference.

I’m here because for a very long time I’ve been telling writers (through email conversations, this blog, and our forum) that there is no better education than what they will find at writers’ conferences. The opportunity to network is priceless, and some contacts will turn into lifelong friends, but the nuggets of wisdom that you’ll get from those more experienced than yourself is what makes it well worth the cost and the effort to participate. And yet, hard to believe, I’ve never been to this particular (and prestigious) annual event.

I made the decision to attend on Sunday, after having JUST arrived home from two months in Idaho, so my things from my last trip are not yet unpacked (tip: have more than one set of luggage, and keep a toiletries kit fully stocked and ready to go for those last-minute trips!), and as much as I would’ve liked to have had a few weeks rest before running off again, I was fully convinced that I couldn’t afford to miss this event (again) this year.

Over the next couple of days I’ll be updating you with some insights gleaned from the plethora of hard-to-choose-between sessions and my informal chats with some of the other attendees and the authors whose attention I might capture for a few moments – there is a very good turnout of friendly and eager students all vying to learn as much as they can from the great lineup of faculty, and elbowing them out of my way might seem…..well, rude. That’s just not me. Not unless I absolutely have to, of course. 🙂

I will share with you one of the “nuggets” I alluded to above – the opening session this morning, given by the inimitable Georgia Hesse [2] (“Introduction to Travel Writing”) produced this pearl of wisdom, and some of the truest words you’ll hear from any experienced writer:

“Don’t write what has already been written. Write about your experience.”

Think about that when you travel……what your readers don’t need is another brochure…..those are freely available anywhere….what they need is your opinion, your insights, your memories, your guidance.

So stay tuned – there’s lots more really good stuff to come tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday!


Have you attended writers conferences? Share your experience!