When an infant finally lets go and walks on her own for the first time, she gains a sense of confidence and independence. She’ll get better and steadier in time. Then she’ll move on to the next challenge.
It’s not so different in the world of travel writing. In fact, taking baby steps has helped more writers succeed than trying to conquer the world in one fell swoop. Here’s why…
Taking too big a bite in the beginning may well result in a misstep and a subsequent loss of confidence. You’re not going to come out of the blocks like an Olympian who’s honed his skills over many years.
To be a successful travel writer, you have to master tasks along the way. And each step you master boosts your confidence for the next.
First article acceptance
I remember the day I woke up to an email that said, “Thank you for your submission. Your article will be appearing in next month’s issue.”
That was my first story acceptance. I would see my name in print for the first time in my travel-writing career.
That message told me an editor thought I could write a story worthy of publication. And it gave me the confidence to continue on.
Sure, there were a few minor disappointments early on. It happens.
But I kept writing, submitting, and getting stories published. And a paycheck would come in, here and there.
Mastering the query
Once I felt I had the writing and submission process down pat, it was time to move on to bigger fish—better-paying magazines. That required sending a query—something I was deathly afraid of.
But I knew I had to do it to move my career in the forward direction. So, I shut myself in my office, turned off all distractions, and pounded out my first query letter.
As a result, I saw my first acceptance from a paying print publication within 24 hours. And to boot, the editor’s response thanked me for my “most eloquent pitch.” I was elated. This became my first story in print. And it boosted my confidence to do what we writers call “rinse and repeat.”
Shortly thereafter, I submitted multiple queries about a fascinating California gold-mining town to several magazines. Within 48 hours, I’d had two print magazines—one on historical topics and the other treasure-related—accept my queries. Although I had to rewrite the story angle differently for each, I’d managed to get two for the price of one.
Landing that first press trip
Every travel writer I know is lured by the opportunity for a myriad of free travel perks all in exchange for a published story. And it was no different for me.
Breaking into the elusive secretive world of press trips wasn’t easy. And I had to really work at figuring out the system. But I did.
I applied for my first press trip and was accepted. Then I picked the brain of the public relations rep for their criteria in choosing writers. And on that press trip, I began networking with other writers, putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
This year, I’ve already landed nine press trips.
Ultimately, in travel writing, success is all about taking that one step at a time and staying the course (I wrote about this recently here).
Always remember, the steady pace wins the race.