The Ambidextrous Travel Writer

The Ambidextrous Travel Writer:

The Ambidextrous Travel Writer is a monthly advice column for travel writers & bloggers, written by author Susan Farewell.

Getting a New Perspective

Changing Your Perspective on Travel Writing
7 March 2011 Post Author:
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Today more than ever, there’s such an urgency to post stories.

No sooner do we have an idea, there’s pressure to get it written and get it out there.

So what’s up with that?

Fear. Fear that someone else is going to beat us. Fear that they’ll be perceived as the originator of the idea.

The result of this manic race to write (and instantly tweet about it) is a serious drop in quality.

All over the place are half-baked ideas, blog postings with extremely clever titles and leads, but no “Click Here for Story.” There is no “Continued On…”

I like to forget about the experience for a bit and then sit down and write about it

There is also a lot of resorting to grade-school writing. “What I Did on Summer Vacation” angles for example. And there are always lists. Don’t get me wrong, “Top Ten” lists sell. They are highly marketable and I use them all the time. BUT often there’s no meat on the bones with these lists.

Perhaps the biggest casualty of all of this rush-to-report work is the lack of perspective.

While I have written many stories en route, and find doing so allows me to really capture the freshness of the experience (like farm-fresh eggs, I like to say), I prefer to give the idea some breathing room.

I like to forget about the experience for a bit and then sit down and write about it. Chances are, at that point, the main memory I have of the trip provides me with an angle. What I remember most about a trip is what the readers of FarewellTravels are likely to be interested in.

If, on the other hand, I wrote about the trip in the lobby of the hotel, I might be more inclined to write about some detail right in my line of vision, such as the monstrous chandelier monopolizing the room or the valet nervously darting about. While it may amuse me for a small period of time, I have found myself writing ridiculously useless and very boring accounts while on location.

My favorite happened quite recently. On a flight back to New York from Egypt, I was really taken by the fact that on Egypt Air, they actually serve fresh (not dried) mint with their tea. I found this so endearing about the airline. They have bunches of mint propped up in Dixie Cups in the galley, the herb being a critical part of the Egyptian cup of tea.

I must have spent an hour on the flight writing about it.

Once in my office, when I went to read what I had written, I wondered whether there might have been something else in the tea along with the mint. While the mint was an interesting travel nugget, it shouldn’t have taken 250 words to explain.

I suppose the downside to waiting to write a story is forgetting details. Easily solved though. I take notes and I take pictures.

It also helps when I travel with my husband and/or daughter. They often fill in many blanks for me with simple recollections like “Mom, remember the hummingbird outside the breakfast room?” or “I’ll never forget the gnocchi dish.

The biggest problem with that is they are in the race with me—both of them wanting to write their stories before I do.

~ Susan

Do you write a story right away or take your time? Share your thoughts!


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2 Responses to “Getting a New Perspective”

  1. I totally agree with this Susan – I often need a little time to reflect before I write, and I impose a “time-out” on anything I do write immediately while traveling…..by setting it aside for at least a few days, then I look at it again, and like you, I often decide that what I wrote wasn’t exactly the right approach or focus. A little distance and time really helps with one’s perspective!

  2. Great article. I tend to do both. Since I get many stories for different outlets out of a trip, I will do at least one right away (usually for my blog) and then revisit every few weeks for additional stories. As I read my notes and research, I too always find interesting things that were not in my first story!

    Marcia

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