Weekly travel writing tip 3: Write write write
What most evidently follows on last week's tip Read read read is of course Write write write. To be a writer, you have to write. I bet you didn't see that one coming.
The thing is that you shouldn't only write a monthly article or a weekly blog post, but you should write much more - daily if possible - only to get experienced. The best way to do this is by keeping a diary or a blog.
I know, I know, the tough traveller inside you thinks that diaries are for little girls, but just give it a try.
For those who don't really know where to start, I'll provide a couple of steps that can be followed. To begin with, try to write every evening about your day, just a couple of sentences about what you did, what you ate, who you met, what you watched on the TV and so on. Try to use full sentences so it looks like a - maybe really boring - story. The next step is to add thoughts, feelings and conversations. What did you like or not, what did you think about when driving home. You don't need to write down everything what you did, but try to focus on parts of your day. Start with a conversion that you had on the train this morning, and don't forget to describe the situation you were in, your position to each other and what you thought but didn't say. Then continue with some things that happened at work, something that happened in the bar after work, and so on.
Next step is to pick one or two situations per day and work them out completely with every detail. Now you will create whole stories out of single situations. You may also want to add style elements like comparisons - the person you talked to smelled like coffee and cigarettes and the heat in the room felt like a midsummer evening - and descriptions of tastes, sounds or smells. If you are interested in writing guidebooks, you might want to go all the way for descriptions. Try to describe the style of everything around you, what it looks like and more important, to what it reminds you. You can describe a building as being round with lots of symmetric windows or you can say that it reminded you of the Colosseum. Guess what'll ring a bell first.
If you don't feel very secure about writing whole stories about daily stuff, have a look at the blog of The Bloggess, who I think is one of the most funny bloggers around. And ninety percent of what she writes is daily stuff. Whole stories of what she dreamed the night before, what she thought about dinner or the conversations she had with her husband. I'm a huge fan!
This exercise will train your ability to create stories about events, thoughts or conversations on a daily basis, but there's still one step to go. Once in a while, try to make only small notes during the day, write down keywords but no story yet. Then after a couple of days try to reconstruct the story from what you've written down. This is quite important because it's normally the way of working while on the road. Unless you have a really strict schedule where you reserve a certain amount of time a day for writing, you will probably be taking notes during the day and after a while spend half a day or an evening writing the stories. Therefore it's important to learn to use the keywords that work best for you, so you can successfully reconstruct the story when the details already left your memory.
Next to the experience you gain, writing on a daily basis is also a great exercise to get the writing routine into your veins. In the beginning it might feel weird to sit down every evening - or at whatever time you like to work - and to start writing. Chances are that some days you won't feel like writing or don't know what to write or have other things to do, but try to stick to the schedule. This is the only way to build up a routine. Once you're used to it, your writing hour will feel as normal as breakfast. In the beginning it might take fifteen minutes before your first sentence is on paper - or probably on screen - after a while your mind will be trained to do the thinking during the day, so the ideas will ready and formatted the minute you sit down. Now that you're used to writing stories, the only thing you have to do is typing them in. Easy as pie!
And later, when you became a rich and successful writer, you can easily write your memoirs based on this diary. Isn't that an advantage?