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Travel memoir word count: 17,317
I finished the first draft of my travel memoir! Yay!
Now comes the hard part.
When I set out to write a book detailing my travels in the UK, I thought it would be just that: a book about what I saw and did. It didn’t take me long to get bored. So bored that I didn’t want to work on the book anymore.
Huh, I thought. Maybe I don’t know how to write a travel book.
It took me just a few minutes of searching the internet to realise I had no clue what I was doing. “I can make up stories,” I told myself. “What’s so hard about writing something that already happened?”
Turns out that writing non-fiction comes with its own set of difficulties, research, roadblocks, and rules. The first thing I realised was that no one wants to read about my travels – even I don’t, as told by my boredom! I already lived them. I have the pictures and can relive the journey whenever I want. Other people don’t care about me describing something they can go see for themselves.
I was writing about the wrong things.
The sights weren’t what made the trip special. Neither were the things I did. What made the trip unique was how I experienced these things and how they changed me. Two people can look at the same tree and see entirely different things. After doing my research on travel memoirs, I realised that that was what I needed to convey. What made the trip special to me? What were my thoughts and feelings? How did the trip impact my life?
As I considered it, it made me uncomfortable, because I had to dig. No longer was this just “I did this and that” but “I felt this way and this memory came to my mind.” To make this book everything I wanted to be, I had to be transparent and honest. I had to bare a part of myself to the world. It was a daunting task and still is.
But as I reset my mind and continued working on the book, I found myself having fun. Actually, it ended up feeling not so different from writing my normal fiction stories. When I came to the end of the first draft, I knew it was sloppy, but it was real. It was me. It was no longer just a detailed account of what I did in the UK, but a journey through an important part of my life.
I hadn’t even realised just how important that trip was to me and just how perfect the timing of it was until I wrote it all down.
I don’t keep a journal anymore, but now I remember why I used to in middle school and early high school. Writing about your own experiences forces you to be honest with yourself. It helps you to look at your life as a journey rather than just one thing happening after another.
So even if you’re a diehard fiction writer like I am, take the time to write about yourself sometimes. You’ll understand yourself better by the end of it, and, best case scenario, the account of your experiences will help someone else. That’s what I hope to do with my travel memoir.
So, happy writing, everyone!
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