For the past couple of months I have been working with women’s travel website Pink Pangea as a content editor. During March, I’ve been writing and publishing a number of articles on the process of writing and improving writing skills. Pink Pangea is a site dedicated to inspiring women to travel and to write. One of the ways that they do this is to run travel writing retreats. I went on one myself last year, to Costa Rica, long before I was working for Pink Pangea. So, in increasing the site’s content related to writing and creativity, Pink Pangea are increasing their commitment to inspiring women to write.
Although in many ways I would call myself a fledgling travel writer as I’ve been doing this seriously for about a year now, I have actually been writing and editing in various fields for many years. And travelling my entire life. It’s only in the past couple of years that I’ve started to focus on combining the two passions. So, I think I have a lot of useful advice to give other writers regarding inspiration and tips. Here’s an outline of the articles I’ve written for Pink Pangea recently:
Contacting an editor about a story idea can be intimidating to all authors, whether new or very experienced. You’ve spent so much time thinking about an idea, then worked hard to turn it into a pitch or full-blown article. What if they don’t like it? What if you never hear back from them? Editors tend to juggle multiple tasks, so you’ll want to make their job as simple as possible while proving that your article is perfect for their publication. Editors always love to hear about good ideas! Ready to pitch your amazing article idea? First, check out my tips for communicating with editors.
As a writer, I’m guilty of the following. I listen to the advice that says “Just write! Anything! Put words on paper and worry about editing them later.” But then I read over what I’ve written and cringe. I couldn’t possibly share that with anyone, I think. It’s rubbish. Fortunately, there are multiple voices competing for attention in my head at any one time, and I usually choose to listen to the one that says, “First drafts aren’t meant to be good. Edit, edit, edit.”
The internet is massive, and there’s so much useful and not-so-useful information to wade through. Most writers—aspiring or well-established—need a helping hand from time to time regarding inspiration, publishing tips and community support. But writing can be a solitary affair. I refer to these ten useful writing websites, and they’re all helpful in different ways, from offering writing prompts to helping you improve your grammar.
As a travel writer, I am inspired by the world around me. If I want to formulate new ideas, I will often take myself off to a quiet spot in a park or a public square with just a notebook and pen, and observe what I see. I don’t always know what my writing will turn into, but that’s part of the fun. Sitting with the possibility of inspiration and seeing what comes out. But inspiration can be a fleeting, fickle and very individual phenomenon. I asked several travel writers and bloggers what inspires them… Nature and people were recurring themes, which is apt for a group of people who are passionate about exploring the wonders of the world and sharing their stories.
Mary Sojourner has been a community and environmental activist and organizer since she was seventeen; and teaches writing: in private circles, one-on-one, at writing conferences and book festivals, and for Matador U, an international travel writing program. She says that writing is the most powerful tool she has found for doing what is necessary to mend oneself and the greater world.
She is the author of numerous books: three novels, a short story collection, an essay collection, a memoir, and a memoir/self-help guide. Her new short story collection, The Talker, is coming out from Torrey House in Spring 2017. She has been an NPR commentator for ten years, reviews books for KNAU’s Southwest Reviews, and is the author of op eds and columns for High Country News, Yoga Journal, Writers on the Range, Matador Network and dozens of other publications. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona. She spoke to Pink Pangea about why she writes and what she teaches.
OK, now that I have your attention: there is no such thing as ‘free travel’ in the travel writing and blogging world, not really. Whatever trips, tours, hotel stays or products you receive, you will need to write about honestly, and that takes hard work and time. But if you love both writing and traveling, and would be doing these things whether someone was paying you/offering you free travel or not, then travel writing can be an awesome job. And yes, you may be able to score some freebies along the way.
[First, I must add the disclaimer that I didn’t choose this title myself! It makes me cringe. Sorry!]
Anyone who is, or would like to be, a writer knows that setting the intention to write is only half the battle. You have all these great ideas in your head, but when you sit down to put them to paper (or screen) you find so many other things that demand your attention… Here are my tips for making the most of the times of inspiration when they hit, and for creating the opportunities for inspiration when it just doesn’t come easily.