At 12 years old, I pictured myself as a published writer, pushing through adoring fans at book signings and appearing on TV shows, sharing my wisdom with young Chuck Warren wannabes.
Then, I spent the next four decades doing absolutely nothing to accomplish that goal.
I did write a lot. However, I never dared to share a single written word with anyone who wasn’t a family member. While I couldn’t ignore the pull to write, my dream of getting published was crushed by my lack of self-confidence.
In my late 40s, I began to travel more, and I wrote about the places I visited. However, I still wouldn’t share my writing with anyone other than family.
The trip that changed everything…
Finally, on a trip through Italy in 2015, I found myself surrounded by incredible history, art, and architecture, and it inspired me to think seriously about writing again.
As I sat in a 12th-century Italian castle once frequented by Machiavelli, the pull grew so strong that I made notes on napkins, notepads, and anything else I could find. I just wrote. And wrote. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with the notes, but I knew I had to write about the place and its rich history.
The feeling didn’t fade when I got home, and on New Year’s Day, I decided it was time to put up or shut up: my resolution was to become a published writer by the end of the year.
Overcoming my fears
I didn’t know how to write a query letter. I was afraid of the process, and of any interaction with editors. I had myself convinced that I had only one chance with each, and if I made any mistakes then that door would close forever.
Also, I received some well-meaning but incorrect advice from someone who had been published a few times—about how it was nearly impossible to break into print publications, and I was better off writing online for free. And, after that, I became frozen in place by fear.
However, after attending the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop, I went home with ideas, clarity, a more accurate understanding of how the industry works, and a plan. I also discovered that editors were just normal people.
I started to get more comfortable with the idea of sharing my writing, and after a long, nerve-wracking inner battle, I finally submitted an article.
One success led to another…
In September 2016, my first article was accepted by a print publication. I couldn’t believe it. I honestly thought I would be a “one-hit wonder,” with a dirty, dog-eared copy of an old magazine in his back pocket, repeating, “Did I ever tell you about…” at family dinners to exasperated relatives and their embarrassed guests.
But, I decided to try again, this time writing about boating—a subject I knew as well as breathing. When this next submission was accepted, I began to think I might have what it takes after all.
I’ve just had my 29th article published in print and now regularly contribute to several magazines. I’ve been able to write about things I love, like boating and animals, and I’ve discovered that travel writing doesn’t necessarily mean visiting exotic places. On a recent press trip to Milwaukee, I learned that there is a lot to discover right in my own backyard.
There’s something incredibly powerful and humbling about having an editor approve of your writing, and letting it represent their publication. I still find it hard to believe I’m lucky enough to experience that feeling.
The key to all of this is: Don’t let fear hold you back. If you can take that next step, despite any fear, your dream could be a lot closer than you think.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography, travel writing, blogging, and more in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Five Fun Ways To Get Paid To Travel: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]