It’s not new if it’s already out there
I don’t usually write about writing, but I will today.
I don’t make it a habit to write about writing because I don’t always consider myself entitled to do so. People shouldn’t be critical about issues they’re personally involved in, just like how movie critics can do what they do because they don’t make movies and how restaurant reviewers enjoy their food and know what’s good and what’s not, but they don’t own restaurants. They’re on the outside, so to speak, and therefore neutral.
So while I’ve always had opinions about travel blogging and writing, I’ve never said anything on the subject of writing, but I think I’m ready now.
And before you say, “Goodness, who is she to talk? Only got a thousand over followers on Twitter and less than three hundred fans on Instagram. Only had her travel blog for two and half years, and doesn’t even have a Klout score. How can anyone not have Klout? Who does she think she is? And- she’s from Asia?? Who is she to talk about writing in English?”, I’ve said all that to myself already. Believe me, I’m aware that I’m small potatoes when it comes to this super-competitive field that is travel writing and blogging.
But you know what? Here’s the thing about writers: we’re readers too. And as readers we’re just as entitled to criticise and make comments as those who are looking in from the outside.
So here’s what I’ve got to say about travel writing and blogging.
If it’s not new, forget it
This is a much-loved entry in many travel blogs: ‘How I quit my job to travel’. Big favourite, that. I’ve just searched that title and I came up with 63,700,000 results. Honestly, the world doesn’t need another post on how to save money, how to plan your escape, etc. I quit my job to travel and I don’t feel the need to write about it on my blog, even though I’ve been interviewed before on this subject. People have been quitting their jobs for ages- everything’s already out there. If it’s not new, there’s no point in writing about it any more.
Another favourite is the soul-searching ‘Why I travel’. We already know why. We travel because we love it, we enjoy it, it sets us free. It’s not new, enough already. If someone has beat you to your confession, find a new one.
‘I don’t take notes when I travel’
I read that line in a travel book once and found it ridiculous. A travel writer or blogger has to take notes of some sort because he won’t be able to remember any details otherwise. The writer of this particular book admitted that some of the incidents occurred decades – decades- ago and yet the stories had so much detail and the characters were so cliched that I had to come to the unfortunate conclusion that most of what was written came out of thin air. Sorry to say this but it’s not possible for someone to recall accents, usage of specific slang words and intonation in a conversation that took place twenty, thirty years ago, especially when these very elements are presented as being significant to the story.
Tell us something we don’t know
An extension of ‘If it’s not new, forget it’. There are thousands of travel blogs, all talking about the same places. Unless you’ve gone to outer space, you don’t have the privilege of saying you’ve gone somewhere no-one else has been to, or of being proud of where you went. In other words, the destination is no longer the story or the angle.
Whatever country or city or town or ‘quaint village’ you visited, someone’s been there already. That’s why you need to tell us something new, something nobody knows. There are enough blogs with information on the one, three and five-day passes for Angkor Wat, for instance. What those blogs don’t have are stories on your experience, what you saw, how you felt. Talk about that. Make your story different , but don’t fabricate if you never took any notes.
Right. I think that’s enough for one day.
© 2014 – 2015, Anis. All rights reserved.