Saturday, December 20, 2014

Travel Writer Tim Cahill gives advice to aspiring travel writers

Read the whole interview and others at

I enjoyed reading this interview with Tim Cahill, and I especially like his advice and sense of humor. Here are my favorite highlights from the interview.
What advice and/or warnings would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing?
This is not a way to make a lot of money.
The travel is difficult on your relationships with loved ones, unless they are coming along with you, which may not be possible. (see #1 above.)
If you are not in it for the money, it is — in my opinion — the best job in American journalism.
Editors, for the most part, don't care "what" you've done, or how astounding the physical event may have been. You need to write well. Many others are capable of doing what you have done (probably), so you must write better than they.
You become a better writer by writing. You become a better travel writer by writing about travel.
Publishing your work is important. Even if you are giving a piece to some smaller publication for free, you will learn something about your writing. The editor will say something, friends will mention it. You will learn.
If this is your dream, don't give up. It takes a while to work your way up to travel features in magazines. Also, first books aren't always sufficiently appreciated. Almost any writer can tell you that. It goes like this: "I'm not sure I'm a lot better than I was 20 years ago, when all I got were rejection slips. Now it seems they'll publish anything I write." It takes time.
What is the biggest reward of life as a travel writer?
I am living out my adolescent dream of travel and adventure. I do not mean this as a pejorative: adolescence is when we are the most idealistic, the most open to the new and the novel. I try to keep that almost childlike attitude; consequently, I am seldom as cynical as I might otherwise be. I think this is a good thing.
Finally, writing is what I do. The writing is why I am published. I am not a stronger climber than others, nor am I better with languages. But I do take care with my writing and feel that it is getting better and better. That is the biggest reward.