On Travel writing

Compared to other forms of writing, travel writing has less inherent value. The internet is redundant with travel content and one can easily find 100 articles or more about the same destination. It just does not root from necessity or a call to tell stories. Travel writing can inform and evoke sensations but normally does not go any further than that. In modern time, travel writing can be grouped in the same category with content marketing, sustained by good cashflow of tourism. And don’t talk about SEO writing. It’s just the worst.

Nevertheless, there are many levels of travel writing. At its worst, it’s full of cliches. At it best, it will be a delicate and in-depth look to a certain destination, done by savvy professionals. It will blend some cinematic elements with personal experiences and succinct analysis. This is a small, niche market, employed by high-end hotels/ resorts, travel column of big magazines and travel guidebooks.

There’s also another type – travel operators who write about their own products in a personal, authentic tone. Currently I see this rising in Instagram cause this platform allows people to tell instant stories in a personal way. Travel bloggers like Nomandic Matt is also shifting his focus more to Instagram than this website.

Despite all of its lures and problems, travel writing is ultimately a skill. It’s a sustainable skill to build cause there’s always a market to use and implore. Travel writing is also an excellent excuse to polish descriptive craft that I wanna dive in a bit deeper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to best share what happened

Everytime a friend joined an interesting event and simply said “it’s cool”, I get frustrated.

 

“What do you mean when you say it’s interesting ??” I asked

The conversation afterwards soon turned into an interview that, in turn, frustrates my friends. It seems difficult to transfer all those things he/ she just absorbed not long ago into something comprehensible. Details and sensations overwhelm us, and only choosing what to say seems difficult.

In this post, I will share my personal experiences in telling stories. Specifically, it’s a how-to for event journals. I will structure this as a casual Q&A write-up by imagining which questions you might have in mind, but do let me know if there are other questions. 🙂

WHY should we write about an event? Why not just use videos/ pictures?

Ideally, a good recap is a smooth combination of these media tools. Pictures help us have an impression and videos show the whole thing. However,  a succinct write-up will help:

  • forming stories

By choosing to write (aside with using other media tools), we have the capacity to not just presenting what happened, but elaborating it. In the process of being a conduit, we reshape reality and have the capacity to zoom in and zoom out, focusing on details that matter and leave out things that do not. This process is quite close to creativity and will give us a sense of flow, as well as autonomy.

But here comes the difficult part: HOW? Is it difficult? Is it time-consuming? How do we stay as objective as possible? How to we compress so much details into a short recap? What details to focus on? What details to leave out? How to open and end a story?

Writing is the best way to learn

Writing is the best way for us to reflect on certain things and people. Even when we don’t aim to share stories with people, writing will help forming a magnet for lateral thinking as well as archiving for future reflection. In this article in Medium a few years ago, this guy shares quite elaborately about his experience on writing

stop consumption

Personally, I chose to write about events because that process will force me to pay more attention in the first place, as well as fuel deeper reflection in the future. Therefore, even when I don’t care what others think or have no particular audience in mind, I will learn something in the process. A win-win situation based on a selfish standpoint.

Subjectivity versus Objectivity

An event journal resembles journalism, in a sense that we try to capture what happened but in the end, it’s not about us. It’s not only how we feel but how things actually unfold. Let readers/ audience decide for themselves how they should feel about those moments.

objectivity

That task is definitely difficult. I myself still struggle to balance subjectivity and objectivity. Deleting “I feel” is the first step, but we can’t help developing feelings to certain people and incidents. When that happen,  It’s okay to embrace our own perspective and weave that into the structure. In event journal, I balance this by

  • Being subjective about people (how a presenter makes me feel, what do I think about him/her, what do I think about his/her mannerism).
  • Being subjective about the vibe of the event (casual or formal, open or clastrophobic, free-flowing or tight)
  • Being objective about activities (what a presenter says, how audience react).

In the process of journal writing, you might find youself reacting differently. It’s OK.

Is it time-consuming?

Writing is a time-consuming process, but in a good way.  When we are immersed and attentive, time becomes elastic and relative.

When you first start, it might take around 4 hours to properly write a journal. Gradually, this will become a skill/ habit and take less time.

Anyway, don’t do it in the first place if time is a problem since writing can be a pain in the ass literally and metaphorically 🙂

chỉ mục

How should I structure the journal?

Ideally, we should structure a journal. Having this frame in mind will help us gather details more easily even without emotions. I have tried several personal templates and currently, this is what I stick to

journal

By having a certain structure in mind, you can write even when you don’t have enough emotions or even when you don’t have deep understanding of the subject. The frame you prepare will be an anchor to help you gather enough information as well as presenting it in a comprehensive style.

FINALLY – Words 🙂

Don’t worry if you don’t have enough vocabulary. Journal writing is a combination of description and reflection so you only need to have a set of vocabulary on

  • Descriptive writing (adjectives about people/ places)
  • Reflective writing (how you feel about certain things)

Using therasus dictionary is a big help in the process and don’t forget that writing is a continual editing. What you end up after writing will be different (and better than what you have in mind).

For descriptive writing, check out my previous post:

https://maydaydreaming.wordpress.com/2015/12/11/want-a-captivate-descriptive-writing/

For some of event journals, check out my other blog:

https://philosophyinvietnam.wordpress.com/

Thank you for reading. If you feel ready to try writing an event journal, PM me 🙂