I wrote up my experience of ‘How I turned my holiday into an article for The Telegraph’ for thestudentjourno.com . Read on for the full text.
In it I talk about my recent Just Back article .
Award winning feature writer Flora Carr offers her advice on travel writing and getting published in a national publication
“You know you’re in The Telegraph, don’t you?”
When a family member told me I’d been published in the Saturday edition of The Telegraph, it was Monday morning. Having received no emails the previous week, I’d assumed my entry for the weekly Just Back travel competition had been passed over. As luck would have it, it wasn’t.
The Just Back competition is a great way to get yourself published in a national and proves your credentials as a travel writer. Back in 2014 I won Best Young Writer at the Bradt/Independent on Sunday Travel Awards, and I’ve been dabbling in travel journalism ever since.
For example, at the beginning of last year, I’d planned a trip to Paris. When the attacks on Charlie Hebdo occurred in January, I decided to turn my trip into an article for my student paper about how Paris had changed a month after #JeSuisCharlie took the world by storm. I went along with a set of ideas and questions to ask locals, then wrote a feature discussing what they had said.
The Just Back piece, on the other hand, wasn’t planned at all. The 500-word article was on a visit to a French antiques market, held in an old, disused hospital. The hospital chapel – which I focused on in the piece – was wonderfully weird, with pieces of taxidermy dotted around, including a stag’s head peering over the pulpit. It was a visit that stuck out in my memory, but I didn’t take any notes. When I later decided to write the piece I had to trawl back through my holiday snaps to fill in the details.
The thing with travel journalism is that it often focuses on one specific event. If you look through the descriptive pieces in the travel sections of newspapers, they almost always provide just a snapshot of a single moment. The reader gets a small glimpse of this great holiday or experience and is left wanting more. A bizarre element catches the reader’s attention, so keep an eye out for the unexpected.
Whether you fancy travel journalism or not, the lesson to learn here is to know your audience. By that I don’t mean the reader, but the editor you’re pitching to. If they clearly favour pieces that focus on a specific time and place, with perhaps an offbeat angle, then write an article that fits those criteria. I also knew that travel editors generally love articles about France, as they’re suitable to be published for British audiences all year round.
A few more bits of practical advice: Include the body of your article in the email; at internships, editors have told me that they hate too many attached Word documents. They also prefer fonts like Calibri to, say, Times New Roman, as they’re easier to scan. Finally, just go for it. If the first publication you pitched to doesn’t reply or doesn’t like the piece, just send a modified version to another one. You’ve got, as they say, nothing to lose.