I definitely feel that travel writing is best accomplished when immersed within a situation. When I return home from a trip, and try to pen down my thoughts, I always have a difficult time regurgitating my thoughts, feelings and experiences. I’m not sure why, but coming back home and trying to write down what you felt in a specific situation is difficult for those who write. I’m not saying that it can’t be done; I just think that the quality of your writing is more genuine and real when immersed within a situation.
I can still remember writing an article about my Turkish hammam experience. I wrote it almost immediately after I had the complete package. The boiling sauna, the extremely cleansing and forceful rub and the drying off whilst drinking Turkish tea. That was a unique experience which I’m sure I would have not done a good job writing about had I wrote about it upon returning home. The memories were extremely fresh in my mind and so I got to writing and produced an article I thoroughly enjoy reading till this day.
I still remember writing about my experiences in India. Much of what I wrote about in India remains unpublished till this day as it was quite personal to me. However, I can see a massive difference when reading through those notes vs reading some of my generic articles about India. I feel as though I’m being taken through an experience as oppose to someone telling me about it. It really allows me to live an experience as oppose to simply reading about it.
My point is, if you write about your travels, or are a professional/aspiring travel writer, try to pen down your thoughts whilst you’re living an experience. It’s amazing what you’ll come up with. The words that you’ll use, the emotions that you’ll portray, the feelings that you’ll express and the names which you’ll use will all come together to give readers such pleasure from your travel accounts. Descriptions of the sea, mountains, people, food, animals, cultural practises and clothes will all be described in a more pure and raw manner, which as a result will give readers a heightened sense of excitement.
I mean, is that not the point of travel writing; to tell others about a holistic foreign experience which you gathered through your senses.
In the end, if that fails and you find that you’re unable to focus on writing when immersed within a situation, there is another alternative. You’ll see journalists, reporters and investigators do this around the world. Take a dictaphone with you or use your voice recorder on your phone. Verbalise your thoughts every time you feel a sensation or experience something magical. Is something worth writing about? If it is, record yourself talking about it and play it back once you sit down to write.