In an 1954 interview, George Plimption asked Ernest Hemingway what he considered to be the best form of training for a budding writer. Hemingway replied: “Let’s say that he should go out and hang himself because he finds that writing well is impossibly difficult. Then he should be cut down without mercy and forced by his own self to write as well as he can for the rest of his life. At least he will have the story of the hanging to commence with.”
Today expatriates all over the world dream of writing about their experiences and sharing them with others. But what can we do to get that all-important publication short of hanging themselves? Here are ten top tips for future expat travel writers.
The best writers read a lot. Read successful books, articles and columns written by expat writers and try and identify what made them a success: what was so great about their writing / story? What made people buy it and read it? The more you read, the more you will learn.
2) Start a blog
Even while you are in the process of devising your New York Time’s best seller, or as you are actually writing it a great article that is worthy of publication, start your own blog. Once your first piece of writing is finished you will need an outlet through which you can market yourself and your work and the early you start this, the better. The world has changed in recent years and many budding travel writers are discovered by their online blog posts alone; some have even gone on to sell books.
3) Develop your social presence
Get social networking accounts at all the big sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn and start to connect with as many people as possible. Post links to your online portfolio and blog and scream about your writing from the virtual rooftops.
In addition to developing an online network, you should also seek to establish a physical one. Join expat groups, writers groups and even book clubs and get to know as many people as you can. A wide variety of people tend to join these networks and you never know, you could bump into someone influential.
5) Travel (obviously)
Get out there and visit as many places as possible. The more travel you do, the more experiences you will have and the more likely you are to come up with some inspiration topics and unique ideas.
6) Differentiate yourself
There are millions of travel writers out there and competition is tough. You need to stand out, be different. Select topics or locations that haven’t been covered before and try and provide a fresh perspective to a story.
7) Open your eyes
Potential stories are all around you. They don’t necessarily involve getting on an 8-hour flight and trekking across the Andes, they may be waiting right outside your front door. Be alert at all times and look for stories everywhere.
Often, the most interesting stories aren’t waiting in some far-flung place for you to come along and unearth them. Instead, they’re right beside you, at ground level.
8) Grow a thick skin
Be prepared for rejection. Be prepared that some people will leave negative comments on your blog. Be prepared for frustration. Becoming a recognized as a travel writer will take time, patience and the ability to handle rejection. Don’t let it get to you. Learn from each experience and move on.
9) Don’t just talk about it, do it.
It may sound obvious, but if you want to be an expat travel writer then you need to write. Don’t just talk about it and dream about it, do it. Your first attempts may not be all that great, but the journey will have begun.
Don’t give up at the first hurdle. Keep writing and keep trying. One day you may just get to where you want to go.
Have you successfully published any expat travel writing? What worked for you? Share your ideas with our readers by leaving a comment below.