National Geographic just posted a great interview with Don George, a veteran travel writer for both NatGeo and Lonely Planet. It’s a short interview, but packed with good information—some of my favorite bits of advice below:
- “Intimidation always comes into the travel writing process on some level. But starting out is [especially] intimidating because it’s a new world, and you don’t even know how to enter it. My suggestion is to read a lot. Read the masters, read the iconic travel writers, but also read what is being written today in magazines, in newspapers, and online.”
- “I think one really critical thing is to focus — both in terms of what you want to write about and where you want your writing to appear. If there’s something you are incredibly passionate about, think about making that your niche. You want to find the thing that puts you on the map in the place you really want to be published.”
- “I think the worst thing a writer can do is to try and pretend that they know more than they know, and the best thing a writer can do is tell a reader exactly what they do know and make it clear that, within that smaller world, they are going to give readers as much information, and passion, and experience as they can.”
Read the interview in its entirety here.
For me that last point is such an important one. Half the time I feel there’s such pressure to represent the enormity of the travel experience, the richness of the location, and the depth of the culture. But it’s okay to not be an expert as long as you recognize that and admit it. You can report on the experience with your own eyes, thoughts, and perspective, and create a richer narrative from that. What do you all think?