Excerpt from Chapter 3: Journaling Outside the Box

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.



Let’s shake things up now and look beyond the most common approach to journaling. We’re going to be rebels and journal outside the box. If this scares you, if you are not a natural born rebel, trust me. These techniques won’t hurt you. They’re what the cool kids are doing these days…and they’re all safe and legal.

That having been said, please approach the rest of this chapter in moderation. I’m about to throw a whole bunch of new stuff at you. Lots of ideas. Lots of exercises. You don’t have to attempt them all in one sitting. You can if you want to, but if you experience any dizziness, drowsiness, sweating, twitching, irritability, or other side effects, take a break. Take a walk, take a nap, have a coffee, have a beer…call time out and put this book aside for a little while. I’ll still be here when you come back; I promise.

You can pursue all of these techniques in tandem with speed journaling if you like. You could also, however, slow down your writing and see what happens. If you’re short on time, speed journal as you travel, then polish things up later.

Theme Journaling
Suspend your sense of time for a moment. What if you didn’t write in a linear, chronological fashion? What if you bounced, semi-haphazardly, from journey to journey as you wrote? You’d be kind of like a time traveler, only without ever having to hang out with mad scientists, who tend to get annoying.

You can do that! You can cast aside the hour-by-hour, day-by-day, journey-by-journey structure of your journals and leap around, writing about multiple trips in a single journal entry! How do you do this without sounding like a ranting lunatic? By finding an alternate structure, a different thread that ties your words together – a theme!

What sorts of themes do we encounter in our travels that differ from our everyday routines? Food, weather, money, language, transportation, accommodations, showers, animals, luggage, telephones, chocolate, music, news, other travelers, gardens, health, water, safety, smells, pickpockets, children, art, noise, religion, beer, e-mail, shopping, haggling, ticket lines, more chocolate, and iguanas, to name a few. In all, there are approximately 79-trillion different travel themes, give or take, for you to write about. Many of these themes are universal; we encounter them no matter where we go. Others might be location-specific: folk
music in Ireland, sushi in Japan, siestas in Mexico, or witches in Oz, for example.

Cover a different theme each day. Zero in on the unique parts of your journey. If you choose to write about food on day twelve of your trip, you might have memorable stories to tell from days two, six, and nine. Write as much detail as you can about a specific topic rather than the broader events of a specific moment.

You don’t need to stick to your current journey either. Say you’re traveling in Scotland and you decide to write about foreign accents. You can write one journal entry about accents you’ve encountered on various trips to Scotland, Jamaica, Chicago, Texas, and Kiribati. Perhaps in Paris, a chocolate mousse sends you on a writing binge about dessert. So write too about the baklava you had in Greece, the flan you ate in Brazil, and the apple pie you had in Kalamazoo.

If your travels tend closer to home, you’ll find plenty of themes across your own country. In the United States, for example, you might write about highway rest stops, varying moralities or politics in different places, vehicles, airports, or odd local cuisines.

Do this long enough and you’ve written yourself a fun book of essays that criss-cross your journeys, lacing together your lifetime of travel experiences and impressions.

Flight Simulator: Choosing Your Themes
Make a list of themes you’d like to journal about. Brainstorm for five to ten minutes. There’s no such thing as a bad theme. If something pops into your head, even if it seems ridiculous, write it down. When you think you’ve run out of themes, sit quietly for a few more minutes. Often the best themes are the ones that come to you after you have emptied the obvious ones out of your mind and onto paper.Once you’ve made your list of themes, choose one and write about it in regard to your past travels. It can be a theme covering lots of different trips, or you can focus
on one specific journey.Hang onto your list. Bring it along when you travel, and add to it whenever something jumps into your head. You’ll have a ready-made list of topics to write about as you explore.
[This chapter continues with lots of other alternative journaling techniques.]

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Published on Thursday, May 15, 2008

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