Weekly travel writing tip 2: Read read read
I have always considered the best way to learn something is by looking how someone else does it. This in mind, I started reading the "classic" travel authors like Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux and Redmond O'Hanlon, not because I wanted to become a travel writer like them, but just because I enjoyed their books so much. Depending on what you expect from a travel story you might also want to add others to this list, Michael Palin for example. Most of these classics are written for a very broad audience. Books from O'Hanlon can be interesting for Biologists or historians, but if you just like to read a novel about travelling you'll probably enjoy them too.
That's what makes these books a good starting point, they read quite easy, you can find them in every library and they are master pieces in travel writing.
Quite soon I'd found out that I didn't want to become "just" a travel writer but I wanted to write about solo travelling, backpacking and travelling on a shoestring, which is, unluckily, what about 90 percent of all travel writers write about. Why is that? Simply because a lot more happens during such trips. I dare you to write a story about a 7 days packet holiday to Djerba where eating, laying at the pool and getting drunk are your main activities.
So backpacking became my main subject. This epiphany slightly changed the style of books I'd read. I started searching for adventurous literature of solo travellers. Peter Moore and Brian Thacker became my favourite authors. I also bought the book Vagabonding from Rolf Potts, but I didn't like it that much. The problem - for me - with that book is that it's all about information. It's probably a great guidebook if you need to overcome your travel fears, but it doesn't contain much personal stories.
Next thing I learned: I did not want to provide a lot of information, I merely wanted to be a story teller.
Although I've always preferred reading a book over reading something online, at a certain moment you can't omit the internet anymore. That doesn't mean that I don't read books anymore, on the contrary.
Most libraries only have a small selection of travel literature, which merely only contains a couple of books from Bryson and Theroux. If I want to read books from the more specific writers like Moore, I have to buy the books. Cheap as I am that's probably the reason why I started to read more and more stories online.
Secondly, a book isn't the same as a story or an article and certainly not a blog post. Very few writers start their career directly with a book, most of them wrote articles or columns for a newspaper first and now that we're in the digital age, many writers start with a blog or an article at an online magazine. As the writing style of those is very different from books, this means you'll need to read them too. As I said before, to learn from others.
One of the first blogs I started to follow was Nomadic Matt, who I consider one of the pioneers of travel blogging. Matt started his blog in the beginning of 2008 and since then he posts a new blog entry every two or three days. Talking about hard work.
Another Matt I try to follow is Where the hell is matt, who became famous with his stupid dance, although his blog has become a bit quiet lately. A couple of times a week I also check the travel articles at BootsnAll, which is one of the best resources for different writing styles.
Next to travel blogs I also follow some blogs about writing, of which my favourite is Men with pens, a blog for the (semi-) professional blogger, which is very educational and entertaining.
The last blog tip I'd like to give you has nothing to do with travelling nor writing, but is so damn well written and hilarious that I had to tell you. Have fun with The Bloggess
If you find my ideas amazing and you think I just got you started to become the world's most famous travel writer, please let me know.
If you think I'm full of crap, please let me know.
If you have any other comments, please let me know.