Want to be a travel writer? Read this before you set off

Exciting and fun as travel is, writing about it is not half as glamorous or easy as one would suppose. Whether you are looking to get published as a travel writer or penning down travel pieces purely for your own pleasure, what goes into writing a worthy travel piece? At a recent workshop on the Art of Travel Writing organised by Avid Learning, expert Chandrahas Choudhary explained what it takes to excel at this form of writing. “First and foremost, one should love writing. One can be great at conversing with people, however, jotting down the points and noting the minute details needs writing,” he explains.

Here are some of the tips that have helped Choudhary become one of the successful travel writers in India:

Diary jottings
“While travelling, a traveller’s senses are always on high alert. There is a change of perspective as a person travels. Travelling and preparing for a tour is all about breaking illusions,” says Chandrahas. The best way to store and memorise these changes in perspectives and new information is to be armed with a diary or a notebook. According to Choudhary, a notebook transforms short term memories into a bank of stories that can remain lifelong. Additionally, jotting down the points will surely help you while preparing the entire write up.

However, even when we carry a notebook, there are times that we tend to forget some of the minute, yet important details of the tour. One need not go crazy about it. Even for this issue there is a solution — remembering conversations. “In case of lack of memory, or in the event of missing out on information, try bringing out a conversation with someone. This brings out the best memories for the story,” suggests Choudhary.

Snatches of dialogue
The individual perspective is different even if the topic or incident is the same. Writing bits of the dialogue can help the writer recover the entire event. At times the dialogue can give out a story idea and totally change the tone of the story. The addition of new words, and tone of the natives acts as a leverage to the story. In support of this point, Choudhary adds, “In order to get the best of the dialogues out, one needs to get out of the comfort zone. Speak to people, ask questions even if you think your questions are crazy. The most important point is to engage genuinely in any conversation and not to waste a single minute of communication. That is how you can get to know the world.”

Customising the itinerary
Asked about the path he took to be a successful travel writer, Choudhary responds – “Self designed itineraries.” That is a fact. If you want to be a successful travel writer, you have to introduce your own itineraries for travelling. “It is all trial and error work initially. You have to check what works out and what does not,” Choudhary adds. The whole idea, according to him, is to bring out something that is different from the earlier works or points discussed. Customised travel plans help writers to look out for examples and lead to new discoveries in real time and on the go. There is also a slight margin for errors that are bound to happen. After all, travelling is always about exploring the new things on the outside and from
within.

Develop your own style
Every aspiring travel writer reads numerous books and travel blogs. There is a kick of inspiration and the style of one’s favourite blogger or travel writer that might latch on to you. However, this is where Choudhary asks budding travel writers to focus. “A style that is copied can be easily traced. It will kill the entire story. You can work on your own style and genre. Your works can be humorous or at times you can also be a serious writer that will guide people when they plan to visit that place. One can also try writing about the experience that one has throughout the entire travel. Explore what is enjoyed by you and work on getting the best out of that,” he elaborates.

Redefining things
Evoking feelings is the most crucial aspect of travel writing. It is all about putting in imagination in the combination of words and memories that brings out the best of travel pieces. You can try setting up the location and if required, give the draft a back story. This might not be true for every story, however it can be used whenever necessary. Find words that bring the best of the memories to the readers. “Scientific data and information can come in handy when the write-up is to educate the readers. This can be done very rarely depending upon the target readers in mind. Keep the usage of the word ‘beautiful’ to the minimum. One should strongly refrain from writing clichés or projecting a fake picture to the readers,” warns Choudhary.

The entire exercise of travel writing is based on the elaborate sharing of some of the most amazing experiences with the best words possible. If readers are given sufficient room to move throughout the piece, they themselves will explore through the write-up. “All this will not happen in a flash. Travel writing success, like other fields, is not overnight. You have to keep on writing, revising, sharing, and submitting. The harder you work, the better you’re going to get,” Choudhary concludes.