Continuing our introduction to travel writing, I’d like to tackle some of the larger, more annoying issues you’ll encounter as an aspiring writer–and all of which I’ve faced as well, with some personal anecdotes for how I faced them.
In this installment, I’ll talk about writer’s block–a major problem I’ve hit as a writer as well–and give a few tips for how to overcome it.
1: Have a reserve of written articles available
When you first start travel blogging, you might feel like you can write, and write, and write for days on end. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself, but try not to publish more than you can comfortably handle consistently. If you have more story ideas than time, outline them and keep them in reserve!
If you have two or three reserve articles–even drafts or outlines–it can save you on those days where you sit down and…stare at your monitor, hoping for a flash of brilliance.
And to take this one step further, if you have a particularly productive week, write as much as you’d like, but try to avoid the urge to publish everything all at once. That way, you’ll have a near-constant flow of reserve articles ready (or almost ready) when writer’s block hits.
2: Keep a list of writing ideas
I have a Google Doc filled with story ideas that might not have worked when they came to me, but that can totally work later. The other day I thought it would be fun to write about a summer road trip I took from Maine to Virginia, but…maybe encouraging people to drive around Appalachia isn’t the best idea for the middle of winter.
For another example, having too-similar articles back-to-back might be overkill. I have a ton of ideas for volunteer travel stories, but I don’t want to bombard you with all of them at once, especially since Frayed Passport tries to highlight a variety of travel styles.
3: Stick to your writing schedule
Developing a habit of writing consistently can get you into the mindset to keep writing for as long as you need it. As you get used to the idea of writing regularly (and actually doing it!), you’ll find yourself coming up with ideas well before you sit down at the keyboard.
4: Get a whiteboard and a journal
I have three whiteboards in my apartment, all filled with mad scribbles for story ideas, project plans, and ah-hah! moments. And I have a journal I keep in my messenger bag filled with the same, but available while I’m out and about. Pretty sure my friends are all used to the “Wait! Hang on, gotta write this down” thing by now.
Echoing what I said a moment ago—even if you don’t like your article idea right now, it might work later. If you’re stuck, refer back to your journal and see if anything pops out to you! And before erasing your whiteboard, take a photo of it or copy your notes elsewhere to look at later–there’s a reason you scribbled it all out in the first place, even if your notes sound kinda dumb after a second look.
5: Try a writing exercise
While this hasn’t helped me come up with an idea on the fly, it has put me back in the mood for writing, at least.
The easiest way to take on a writing exercise: Google some writing prompts and pick out the first few that you see.
I’ll get you started:
- One film I never get tired of watching is…
- A simple pleasure that’s very important to me is…
- I’m completely incompetent at…
- A word/expression I love is…
- A word/expression I hate is…
6: Ask for an interview
When all else fails, interview another traveler, or all-around awesome person.
About the Author: Sarah Stone
Sarah Stone: As the managing director of Frayed Passport, my goal is to help you build a lifestyle that lets you travel the world whenever you want and however long you want, and not worry about where your next paycheck will come from. I've been to 20+ countries and five continents, lived for years as a full-time digital nomad, and have worked completely remotely since 2013. If you would like to share your story with our community, or partner with Frayed Passport, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org!