- Pretend You’re in an Egg: The Difference between Creative Writing Exercises and Practical How-to Tips
- Practical Writing Prompt
- Your Questions Answered: How to Land More Paying Assignments
“Pretend you’re in an egg…” said Jen Stevens in response to my suggestion that we start including “writing prompts” in our e-letters…
“Pretend you’re in an egg and write about what it feels like,” she continued.
“I can’t stand writing prompts like that. When the heck am I ever going to be in an egg?” she said. “Now, I know there are aspiring fiction writers who eat up exercises like that — those writing-for-writing’s-sake sort of things.
“But I tell you, I don’t think those are the sorts of writing prompts that are going to help people looking for a career in travel writing.
“I’m not against this idea entirely, but what our readers need is sound, real-world advice… practical tips they can use for finding good story ideas… unearthing the right publications… acting the part of a seasoned professional… writing truly saleable articles… and editing their own work.
“For starters, why don’t you send me a few examples of article ideas from our members, and I’ll use them to show how tweaking an idea — using just a few easy fundamentals — can transform something merely average into something truly unique and saleable. That will certainly help them more than having them pretend they’re in an egg.”
Now see… that’s what I like about Jen. When she teaches travel writing she never teaches theory. She offers up fundamentals, to be sure. But she does so with the “practical” in mind. And as a result, her advice has a way of lingering in the back of your head until the next time you go to put words on paper… when you can make smart use of it.
So, to find fodder for Jen, I went to the Peer Review section of our website forum and sent her the following note, which one of our readers had posted there (paraphrased here):
I’m heading to France in two weeks… driving with a friend through Provence and down to Valencia, Spain. We’re two single women in our 50’s and neither of us speaks French or Spanish. Which of these story ideas do you like best?
“Beat the crowds on the Riviera and travel in the fall”
“Best Lunches with a view of the ocean/mountains/etc”
“What’s so special about …each town we visit … ”
“Menton, France – They named the town after me, won’t someone buy me a drink! ”
“Short reviews on the places we stay.”
“Traveling to Europe and feeling secure”
Getting ready for the America’s Cup in Valencia. etc, etc. thanks for your contributions.
Can you guess which one of these ideas is the most marketable? Jen’s opinion might surprise you. Take a minute now to pick your favorite and tune in tomorrow for Jen’s critique. Like I said, you might be surprised at which she thinks holds the most potential.
As always, keep me up-to-speed on your travel-writing or photography success. If you have a story to share, send me a quick note at email@example.com.
Have a great weekend,
Director, Great Escape Publishing
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]
PRACTICAL WRITING PROMPT OF THE WEEK:
Ever had a tough choice to make about a purchase that immediately became easier when you realized you could get a discount?
I found a great pair of shoes in the mall this past weekend but I wasn’t sure I could justify the price. I went home and looked online and found the same shoes with a much lower price tag…. decision made.
Truth is: Everybody likes a good value. And editors know that. That’s why travel magazines are full of articles about smart ways to travel for less.
Take some time this weekend to find a bargain travel story near you… and re-read Jen Stevens’ article on writing one, here. Promise yourself that you’ll get in touch with your local paper or another small magazine near you and pitch the idea.
I’d like to see you land your next by-line in the next few weeks. And that’s not an unreasonable goal…
READER FEEDBACK: How do I get paid?
Q – “I have been submitting my articles for free and now that I have been published a few times how do I start getting paid?”
A – Most of the publications we feature in our weekly Featured Publications are paying publications, so take a look through our e-letter archives and find one that best fits your article ideas. It’s unlikely that you can go back and ask for money from a publication that expects free articles but there’s nothing stopping you from trying other markets. You might even be able to sell the same articles again if you didn’t sign away all your rights to them.
See our e-letter archives for previously run Featured Publications. And read issues #8 and #119 for tips on reselling your articles and maximizing your income by being selective with the rights you sell.