http://www.johnbechtelwriter.com/ I have been an accidental writer all my life, and I have been a traveler all my life, but I had never put the two together in a professional way until September 2014 when I attended the Ultimate Travel Writer's Workshop in San Diego. The three-day event was sponsored and managed by Lori Allen and her team at Great Escape Publishing. The program was written by world adventurer, master copywriter, and Executive Editor of International Living magazine, Jennifer Stevens.
During a breakout group session we were all given 20 or 30 minutes to write a short article about a restaurant we had visited. For me this wasn't just about practicing the craft; why not sell my product? As it happens, there was an editor of the magazine Edible San Diego present as an expert panelist at this event, and I introduced myself later and told her I would be submitting an article to her in a few days. It was accepted and published six months later in both the print and online editions of the magazine.
The video above is about our greatest hurdle to overcome when pursuing any ambition or dream--fear of failure. This is why all writers need to keep writing, whether as neophytes or pros. Doing is the only successful antidote to fear that I know of. If you stop writing, the fears come skulking back out of the closet to which they had been momentarily banished.
If it helps, remember that editors have fears, and publishers have fears, and all your readers have fears. They worry about their jobs, their families, their health, and their finances. They worry about their kids and about their aging parents, and their relationships. And way down deep, they probably worry about whether they are loved, or loved enough, and about whether they are good enough, nice enough, or compare well enough to their peers and colleagues.
During the writing workshop, we periodically were given assignments. So in that spirit, I have an assignment for you, my fellow writer. Get out a piece of paper or move to your keyboard. I'm serious. Do it now. This will only take a few seconds. Write (or type) these four words: "I am a writer." It is not enough to read this. You MUST write the four words. If you don't do this, you are not a writer, because writers write.
Did you do it? Good! Now on to Part B of your assignment. Write these five words: "I am a travel writer." How does it feel? Can you own it? Have you written an email, a blog, or a letter to a friend describing a vacation or weekend trip? What will it take for you to accept, and own, that you are a travel writer? Will a business card make you feel like one? Will a website do the trick? I know of only one thing that works: you must write.
Now on to the final part of your assignment. Write these six words: I am a freelance travel writer." The dictionary says freelance means mercenary, for money. Originally it referred to soldiers who hired themselves out, and whose weapon of choice was the lance. One of the oldest uses of the word freelance was in an 1809 book The Life and Times of Hugh Miller by Thomas N. Brown, where this reference to such a soldier appears: "But when the battle was hottest, Hugh Miller was a loyal combatant, not a free lance." A free lance was unattached, an individualist, not a staff member. They fought and battled for a fee. They owed no fealty or pledge of allegiance to one particular client. A freelance writer works for many different clients. S/He is not a staff writer, but is self-employed. Freelance writers cross-pollinate ideas, cultures, and civilizations. They are the Phoenicians of the modern intellectual world.
Freelance does not mean writers work for free. Do what you have to do to get your bylines and establish your credibility. You will have to pay your dues to obtain credibility in any profession at least once. You will probably have to do some free work. But I have a theory about working for free. Everyone may tell you that you are a wonderful writer. But aside from friends, family, and members of our support groups, praise can lack conviction. When a client opens their wallet and pays me real money as a store of value I can use to trade with others, the value of their praise takes on tangible meaning. So get out there and get your first check. Copy it and print these six words beneath it in bold type: "I am a freelance travel writer." Because now you are.
It’s a rite of passage. Congratulations! Now do it again.