After attending our Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in Santa Monica last year, Chris Wildgen stopped procrastinating and gave it a shot. Today Chris shares how she received her first paid by-line in International Living Magazine.
INTERVIEW WITH SANTA MONICA WORKSHOP ATTENDEE CHRIS WILDGEN
By Christina Merchant
CHRISTINA: Hi Chris. You attended our Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop last year in Santa Monica. What made you want to get into travel writing?
CHRIS: I love to travel and I love to write. I wanted to get into travel writing as I see it as a way that will not only help to fund my travels but give me a better, deeper experience when I travel.
Having traveled a lot for work, including living in different places (Australia, Canada, the U.S., and Europe) I’ve found that, at least for me, being there with a purpose gives a much different experience than being there as a tourist. Writing actually adds to the experience because it makes you pay attention and question things that otherwise might go unnoticed.
I also promote and lead small group tours of Cinque Terre, so travel writing seemed like a natural extension for me.
CHRISTINA: You just found out one of your articles will be published in International Living Magazine. Can you tell us a little bit about the article?
CHRIS: The article is a profile of someone who went for a three-month visit to Ajijic, Mexico and has decided to stay. From the Santa Monica Workshop, I learned many things that helped: picking the section of the publication to target, following the style and requirements of that section, knowing the audience, staying focused, following the guidelines, writing the pitch, and knowing what the magazine wants.
Also, International Living was a featured publication at the workshop, and two of the magazine’s editors, Jen Stevens and Steenie Harvey were presenters. The editor was also very helpful in giving guidance on what the article should be and do. So I believe this direct, personal contact helped.
CHRISTINA: Do you have any other magazines, newspapers or websites where you’d like to get published next?
CHRIS: I’m going to submit one of the articles I wrote that was originally turned down to an airline magazine. I’m also revisiting Jen’s advice of writing local, and I plan to do an article on San Francisco to submit to newspapers.
CHRISTINA: Any advice to someone looking to break into travel writing for the first time?
CHRIS: My advice is the same advice that I actually have to give to myself: Just do it! Write an article and submit it. Accepted or not accepted, you’re farther ahead than if you hadn’t tried at all. Write the article that you want to write, tweak it for the publication to make sure it fits the audience, and follow the writer’s guidelines. Then submit it! Don’t question yourself, just do it. Having just written this, I think I will print it out and paste it on my wall for myself!
Also, attending the workshop really does give you everything you need to become published. The information is great, the presenters are all so helpful, generous, open, and encouraging. It is such a fabulous, heart-warming feeling knowing that they really want you to succeed. And, it’s a lot of fun, too!
Finally, I also attended the one day add-on photography workshop, and I have to say that my photos are significantly improved.
CHRISTINA: Thanks Chris!
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]