A few months ago, I was on a flight to the Big Island of Hawaii—seated next to an almost 70-year-old gentleman from San Diego traveling to Hawaii to compete in the Ironman Triathlon.
This seemed a miracle in itself. Then I found out that Mike has been training for this competition while undergoing chemotherapy for stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
In complete and utter amazement, I asked him what he believed to be the most important factor that’s motivated him and kept him in the game, despite his illness.
With a wink and a wry grin, he replied, “I train every day, and I always stay the course.” Then he added, “And like a baseball player, I keep my eye on the ball—though mine is crossing that finish line.”
A few days later, while relaxing on a white-sand, palm-covered beach, I wondered how Mike would fare in the triathlon. It occurred to me that his training regimen and philosophy in many ways mirror the strategies that travel writers use for success.
It all comes down to behaviors—repeated day in and day out. The following practices will help you on your way toward travel writing success:
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
Every successful baseball player knows that keeping your eye on the ball can result in a hit or even a home run. For travel writers, the goal is landing that well-paid story.
Getting published means seeing our name in print, getting paid for our stories, and garnishing some great travel perks.
We can’t find success if we don’t stay focused and remember the reason we decided to become a travel writer in the first place. Our finish line is whatever we want it to be. And it’s all within our power if we keep our eye on the ball.
Train Every Day
For athletes, training is a core discipline that over time produces results. This work ethic is exactly the same for travel writers, and it needs to be practiced daily.
This can mean anything from jotting down ideas on a notepad, researching a unique story angle, finding a new publication, finishing that query, or submitting a story.
Doing something related to travel writing every day directly correlates to success. Writers who do this maintain their rhythm and flow—just as Mike does.
Stay the Course
Successful athletes’ careers are a series of ups and downs. It’s the same for travel writers.
Those who don’t give up ultimately walk away with the prize. All because they stayed the course.
When a pitch is rejected by one magazine, we send it to another… and another. If we don’t have enough bylines in the beginning to make us competitive enough for all-inclusive press trips, we go back and write more stories and then apply for a future trip.
Staying the course means never giving up the dream. It’s about persevering with all the determination, energy or fortitude possible. It’s about wanting something badly enough to make it work!
No one wins a race, earns a medal, or lands an all-expenses-paid press trip to Asia, the Caribbean, or Ireland without staying the course.
No writer lands a cover story or gets paid $1,000 an article without staying the course.
My perchance meeting with this brave, inspiring gentleman who, despite having a terminal illness, continues to compete in one of the world’s most brutal and challenging physical competitions convinced me that “If Mike can do it, so can I.”
Famous racecar driver Mario Andretti once said, “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal—a commitment to excellence—that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”