The conflicts in travel writing

I’d like to think of myself a ‘traveler’ rather than a ‘travel writer’. The ‘writer’ bit makes me think of deadlines. This, in fact, is the main challenge I face at work. How to enjoy as a traveler and work as a writer?

See, when you are traveling in leisure you are the master of your own time – you can waste as much of it as you can. As a writer you are constantly on the vigil lest you miss a moment, a place, or an experience that’ll make a colourful copy. The pressure sometimes is tremendous, and it also defeats the very purpose with which you are traveling. After all, the tone of your article depends on your experiences in the place.

The answer lies in better planning and through research even before you start booking tickets to the place. And planning is a skill which you develop over time with help from bad experiences, and self made blunders (the more colossal the better). The point is that a travel writer has to be a much better planner than the casual traveler. Too many variables in your journey tend to invade on your time and thoughts – both of which are needed in order to travel leisurely and also write creatively.

The next main conflict lies in writing about a place and photographing the place. A photographer friend while showing off her exquisite photographs of Goa commented how she spent a week in the place but never really saw it. For the photographer, the world is his viewfinder. The photographer portrays what he/she experienced through that viewfinder. A writer on the other hand draws the picture through what he saw, heard, smelt, tasted, and touched. If I see a person and want to know more about him, as a writer I will go up and speak to him, but as a photographer I will remain hidden waiting to capture a candid moment.

What I have pointed is not at all path-breaking. Just that I am facing these problems right now. With experience eventually I will stumble upon the answer. And in that Eureka moment I will wonder why I hadn’t thought of the solution before…

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