When In Manila and wanting to hone your love of putting ideas to paper (or MS Word), take a workshop or three with the ladies of Writer’s Block Philippines and find out how your pen can take you places, literally!
Writer’s Block Philippines holds various writing workshops every month, with topics that range from writing about food, culture, trends, fiction, etc. Attendees range from teachers, students, moms, business people who write as a hobby, or who write as a release from their job.
I was lucky enough to attended their Travel the Write Way workshop. I wanted to take on the challenge of travel writing, because despite my wanderlust, writing travel pieces is the hardest type of writing for me to do, as it requires a lot of descriptive paragraphs, trying to bring the reader in and have them visualize the place in their heads, and I feel that I fall short on doing just that. It’s something I can occasionally pull off when the right mood strikes, but not a skill I can consistently pull off. What better way to learn than from three of the best Filipina writers in the country today.
The whole day workshop was held at Co.Lab, with the ladies dressed in attire that best represented their favorite travel destination – Nikki was dressed as a Parisian, complete with a red scarf and black beret, Nina was dressed in beach attire and a wide brimmed hat, perfect for La Rochelle, and Ana was in knee-high boots, tight jeans and a black top, ready to either get plastered or take a nice stroll down the streets of Amsterdam.
“Your goal is not just to inspire the reader, but to take them there.” Ana said. “A travel piece has to soar from the page and take you with it.” Of course, it’s easier said than done.
I had been thinking about dipping my big toe into travel writing, but the fears of whether or not I’d do a good job of bringing a place to life and fear of rejection can be so paralyzing, I just haven’t mustered up the courage to even try and submit a travel article. The lovely ladies of WBP changed all that.
In order to become a travel writer, some very basic skills need to be met:
- Writing and note taking. Pen and paper is a writer’s best friend.
- Interviewing. All you need to hone this skill is a smile and a knack for asking the right questions.
- Social skills. Traveling involved voluntarily getting lost and asking complete strangers for tips on the best underground club, up-and-coming restaurant, or directions to the nearest toilet.
- Proof-reading and editing. After transcribing all your notes and typing up a storm at 3 o’clock in the morning, proof-reading and editing skills come in very handy before hitting the publish button. It’s always best to sleep on an article and look at it the next day with fresh eyes.
- An eye for detail and have a nose for new stories. Speaking of eyes, what will make you stand out as a travel writer is featuring something that nobody would have ever thought to feature before. Surfing in La Union has been written about over a thousand times, but focusing on a something unique, that eco-friendly bamboo surfboards, gives the typical surfing piece a whole new angle.
- A budget. Most of the time you’ll have to fund your own travels, and pitch your stories to various publications. Before you travel the world on someone else’s dime, you have to pay your dues first. Also, most of the time only the flight and accommodations are covered, you will have to pay for your own food, gas, and whatever else you’d need once you get to the destination.
Nikka, Nina, and Ana shared their experiences of writing travel pieces that were featured in various online and offline publications, shared their travel nightmares, taught us about the different types of articles once can write, gave tips on how to take great pictures and what kind of camera works best for travel writers, and to put what we learned to good use, we were asked to create a travel piece about a place we had traveled to recently.
I definitely left the workshop feeling a lot more empowered and confident in writing travel pieces, and am looking forward to contributing to a publication soon!
When In Manila and wanting to turn your love of writing into more than just a hobby, learn the tricks of the trade with the seasoned journalists and writers of Writers Block Philippines!
Writer’s Block Philippines