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Excerpt from Chapter 7: The Inner Journey

This is an excerpt from the bestselling book, Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and still have time to enjoy your trip!) by Dave Fox. You can order autographed copies on this website or download it for Kindle.

 


 

The Showing Must Go On!
Just as you scan all of your senses before writing about your outer journey, take a quick emotional inventory before you write about your inner journey. List in your mind all of the different emotions you felt during the scene you’re about to cover. Picture yourself back there, and take a moment to search for the quieter emotions you felt. Just as one particular sense might be dominant in the outer journey, the same can happen with your inner journey. Other, subtler emotions may be lurking beneath the surface.

Stick with the “Show, don’t tell” rule. Just as writing, “The fjords are beautiful,” doesn’t paint a picture of what the fjords really look like, neither does writing, “I’m so excited.”

Why are you excited? Are you feeling a sense of accomplishment at finding your way around a new place? Thrilled about finally arriving at a destination you’ve dreamed about for years? Are you proud you’ve just eaten a local specialty you didn’t think you’d be able to choke down? (I was once tricked into eatiing spicy lamb intestines. Not knowing what they were, I went back for seconds.) Or maybe you’re just excited because your crotchety boss is far, far away. Whatever reasons lie behind your feelings, write them down.

Elaborate. If you’ve written, “I can’t believe I’m finally here,” ask yourself why. What did you go through to get to this place? What does being there mean to you? Stretch your emotional descriptions and weave them together with things you’ve done. Have you accomplished a physical challenge? Climbed a mountain, or conquered the local transportation system? Maybe you got lost looking for a hotel, and had an adventure along the way. Have you done something that your friends back home would think was rock-star-esque? How does it feel to have this accomplishment, far from the people who know you, where none of them can see what you’re doing?

Go beyond the “big picture” of what you’re experiencing too. Write down your little victories. Seeing the sights, finding the ideal beach, or discovering your new favorite restaurant on the planet are all journal-worthy, but sometimes, smaller, momentary events deserve written celebrations. Working as a tour guide in France, I had a man on my tour run up to me one afternoon with a gaping grin on his face. “Dave!” he said, “I went into a shop and said ‘bonjour’ to the shopkeeper and he said ‘bonjour’ back to me!”

I stood there, waiting for the rest of the story. Then it dawned on me; there was no rest of the story. That was it. I was used to dealing with language barriers, so having a Frenchman utter, “bonjour,” hardly seemed earth-shattering – but then I realized: this man had never uttered a non-English word in his life. For him, to make a connection with a Parisian in the local language was one of the coolest things he had ever done. He had snuck one little toe across the language barrier for the first time in his life…and it worked! For the rest of the day, he wallowed in his victory.

If you do something you think is cool, gloat. Yes, people get annoyed with gloaters, which is why your private journal is the perfect place for such behavior. Your notebook pages won’t roll their eyes at you. Years later, when you read about these moments, you’ll be reminded how ultra-cool you were while traveling. And that ultra-coolness just might spill over into life at home.

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Published on Thursday, May 15, 2008

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