When every man and his dog thinks he’s a great travel writer, WENDY MONTROSE explains why she did a course before embarking on the road to travel journalism.
‘I’m doing a travel writing course,’ I told my daughter.
With retirement looming and plans for getting out and about in our camper, I saw travel writing as a way to: (a) keep my brain active and (hopefully) ward off dementia, (b) get regular writing practice and (c) supplement my pension.
I thought she would be pleased for me, but her response thoroughly burst my bubble.
‘Really?’ she questioned. ‘Isn’t travel writing oversubscribed? Everyone does it.’
Just as well I’d already paid for the course or I would have backed out.
Was she right?
In a way. If you check out the number of travel blogs, it certainly seems that everyone who travels writes about the experience. But not all of the writing is of a publishable standard. Some blogs are downright unreadable and saved only by great photography. If you want to get paid for your writing, you must develop strong written communication, among other essential skills.
A diploma in creative writing some years ago gave me some valuable writing skills, and I have a good grasp of grammar, punctuation and spelling. But with no idea how to go about getting published and paid, I needed help.
A Google search for online courses netted 3.5 million results. After hours of research, I settled on the Travel Writing Course at the New Zealand Writers College.
How did the Travel Writing Course help?
I got three things out of doing the course: knowledge, skill and confidence.
It’s a fact that writers wallow in self-doubt a lot of the time. On the course, the tutors positively reinforced my strengths while giving me the skills to overcome my weaknesses. They wanted me to succeed.
I got lucky.
In one of the earliest exercises in the course, I was to contact a magazine I would like to work for and ask for their contributor guidelines. I emailed two. I’m still waiting to hear from one, but the other editor got back to me immediately asking for a sample of my work. I had to confess to being a student, but provided a link to a blog I kept. She liked it and offered me an opportunity – ‘write an article for the next issue and we’ll see how it goes.’
Right place, right time? Maybe. With all the skill in the world, a little luck still helps. I’m now a regular contributor for that magazine, and best of all, I get to call myself a freelance journalist. See my work here.
Am I glad I did the Travel Writing Course?
I’m still learning; I’m not relying on luck alone. I might never make a living out of travel writing, but I have earned enough in the last few months to cover the course cost and buy myself a new camera.
Am I glad I did it? You bet!
About the Author
Short story writer and bird fancier Wendy Montrose loves to explore the backroads and byways to meet the unique characters and photograph New Zealand’s wildlife.
A contributing writer for NZ Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine, she and husband Ross are always ready to take off in their slide-on camper for a weekend or a month at the drop of a hat.