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Episode 016: Master Class in Travel Writing with Perry Garfinkel

Perry on Quansoo bridge in Martha's Vineyard.

Perry on Quansoo bridge in Martha’s Vineyard.

Perry is a travel journalist, author and speaker. He has been a contributor to the New York Times since 1987 and Huffington Post blogger since 2007. He contributes regularly to the Los Angeles Times and has written for Wall Street Journal Asia and National Geographic Magazine. He is the author of “Buddha or Bust,” a national bestseller selected for “Best Buddhist Writing” by Shambhala Press. He is also the author of Travel Writing for Profit & Pleasure, which Arthur Frommer called “the definitive work in the field. Find out what it’s like to write for the New York Times and to go on assignment for National Geographic on the 16th episode of Break Into Travel Writing.

The Finer Details of This Show Include:

  • To make it your business to dissect articles.
  • Learn to psychoanalyze articles to understand their structure and become a better writer.
  • His round the world trip to complete his story for National Geographic.
  • How to take 100 hours of interviews and turn it into a cover story.
  • How his cover story for National Geographic turned into a book deal.
  • Why Perry takes his notes to bed with him for inspiration.
  • How to turn a workshop into a book.
  • And loads more!

    China's famous Mount Emei Shan cherished by Buddhists that Perry climbed.

    The Leshan Buddha near Chengdu, China, the world’s largest stone Maitreya Buddha, which Perry visited while researching his 2005 National Geographic story and his ensuing national bestselling book “Buddha or Bust.

Perry also shares his story about taking a year off to travel with his wife and why on this trip he realized he had a story in him. He also shares  and his insights on how to become a better travel writer. Some of the main points we discuss are:

  • Write about your area of expertise (a subject or where you live) when starting out.
  • Perry’s advice to land your first assignment.
  • How to leapfrog from your first published piece to pitching a story in Peru.
  • Pick 2-3 areas to be an expert and learn to piggy back additional assignments for each trip.
  • How to come to an idea and find your truth and be able to put it on paper.
  • How to develop the skill of focus.
  • The importance of writing through.
  • Why you should complete the whole story before you edit.
  • Take confidence in the good stuff and let the bad stuff go.
  • Writing is re-writing.
  • How to use mapping to outline your article.
  • Why you should do guidepost exercises.
  • Why bigger publications don’t allow media trips.
  • Why you should get four or more stories placed from each trip.
  • The concept of destination marketing.

Twitter Question from @thingstodocdmx
Perry’s tips: 1) Block time to write. 2) Close your email when writing.

There’s plenty more Perry he has to say on this and his mindset advice if you are serious about becoming a travel writer. One of my favorite things Perry said was “Always ask yourself what you learned from a travel experience and back that into your story“. Another great quote from Perry is “80% of what you write won’t be good, but the 20% that is good is what you are writing for“. Have a listen to get the inside scoop, and then join me in thanking Perry for being here! And thank you as well. We’ll see you next time!

Episode Resources
Perry’s book, Travel Writing for Profit and Pleasure
Perry’s book, Buddha or Bust: In Search of Truth, Meaning, Happiness, and the Man Who Found Them All
Perry’s travel writing workshop
Steve McCurry
Paula Frommer
A Man’s Word
Nut Graf
Field’s End
Bainbridge Art Museum 

Connect with Perry:

Perry Garfinkel’s website
Perry Garfinkel on Facebook
Perry Garfinkel on Linkedin

Connect with Break Into Travel Writing
The Aspiring Travel Writer, the Facebook group

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