Travel writer David Miller wrote an article titled “How to Write Better: 2 Thoughts on Self Awareness.” He provides a perspective on writing that makes clear the distinction between articles that are fictionalized narratives and those that are ‘self-aware’ (the former is one where you are drawn into the story and become part of it, the latter where you remain a reader, not a participant).
Here’s an excerpt from the article,
“…What saves me is good writing. Stuff that’s real, that hits all different emotional levels. Sad, happy, funny, whatever. David Sedaris comes to mind immediately, as does Sherman Alexie.”
While fictionalized narrative is great for a novel, or even a travel book where you want your readers to ‘travel’ with you on your journey (perhaps by sharing your personal experiences in a first-person voice), that isn’t always what Editors are looking for. It pays to know ahead of time what your intended audience is….and the best way to do that is by reading other articles published by the same publications or websites you plan to submit your article to. But don’t let that stop you from writing both! Create your ‘self-aware’ travel articles that perfectly describe the destination or event, and hopefully you’ll entice your readers into wanting to go there. And at the same time, create your compelling/amusing/emotionally captivating narrative, and hopefully you’ll seduce your readers into wanting to join you. Both types of travel writing have a place in the right medium. The key is to decide ahead of time what your outcome will be before you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.
Don’t make the mistake of not having a clear goal in mind before you write. As a writer, you’ll often wonder what editors are thinking when they are reading your work. But if an Editors is wondering what a writer was thinking while crafting an article, then the writer didn’t do his or her job well.
One comment made on David’s article was from Julie. She writes “…..What’s the purpose of this piece I’m writing?….. Who is my audience?” Julie makes a great point…..don’t limit yourself, but practice being “aware” of your audience and you’ll produce better articles.
Are you self-aware when you write?