There’s Something Wrong With Travel Blogging — That’s Why I’m Running Away. . . Kind Of
I had taken a trip alone out to the west coast of the United States. I loved it. I wrote about it in a notebook — my thoughts and what I saw that inspired me. I slept in my car and began to learn different tricks for doing so.
Two months after that, I left for a semester abroad that changed my life. I was so inspired by the people I met that I decided traveling was what I needed to do.
I started a travel blog because that’s what every person committed to the lifestyle does, nowadays. I was inspired by the likes of Nomadic Matt and World of Wanderlust — these blogs that had inspired me to “become an expert”. I wanted to share the tricks of traveling, too. I wanted to be Nomadic Adam.
However, I quickly learned that the self-proclaimed travel expert field is a flooded trap. I had no audience, hardly any experience, and worse of all, nothing to say. So, I started to make-up whatever words I could to sound like I knew what I was talking about. In the blogging industry, they say, “Content is king. Just write a lot and soon you’ll find your audience.”
I spent over a year pretending to be an expert on traveling. It was exhausting and at the end of the year, I still had no audience. I was bored with the blog already and it was changing my traveling tendencies quickly. Instead of letting the wind take me where the journey led, I put myself on a strict agenda so that I could write about everything.
I had gotten away from what made me love traveling in the first place. The people. And, so, I finally admitted I was no expert. I deleted every “city guide” I had ever written and went on a writing hiatus, waiting for inspiration to come to get me.
Meanwhile, I read a lot of books. I studied what other bloggers were writing about, too. A lot of it was the fluff I was sick of. Travel blogging has all become the same. It’s no longer about helping people, it’s about showing off and making money. However, behind all of that, there are still a few bloggers writing genuinely and you can see it in their writing.
Finally, I was inspired, again. The first thing I did was try to mimic those blogs. It wasn’t because I wanted to steal their audience, but I was truly inspired by their work. I wanted to be genuine like them so I copied everything they did. Their style, their format, their social media — everything but their actual words. I did this for a while, but I learned you can only copy someone else for so long with the same inspiration.
If I actually wanted to inspire others like they inspired me, I’d have to find my own voice and style. Something original and unique. So, I started putting my stories on paper — not literally on paper because who writes on paper anymore? I filled my blog with the travel stories I consistently told friends and family. It finally felt like my own work.
It seemed I had finally found my answer. I did this for about a year and I’m still writing those stories on my blog. However, there was one thing that stood in my way: Google. For those that don’t know, Google sets a formula for bloggers to follow in order to show up in its searches. If you don’t follow the formula, you struggle to gain an audience.
I felt restricted by these rules. Using keywords and placing headlines in certain places started to mess with my style. It aggravated me because all I wanted was to tell my story my own way. I had to choose — did I want to play by Google’s rules at the expense of my own voice or did I want to constantly write stories to an audience of one (thanks for the support, Mom)?
That’s when I started to veer from the blogosphere. I couldn’t sacrifice my own style for Google. I looked into writing stories for traditional print newspapers and magazines. We all know the print industry is on the decline and, therefore, very competitive — especially adventure travel writing.
One day, I started writing a book. It started as a memoir of my first trip around Europe and quickly became a fiction tale that twisted the events and happenings of my own stories. It was more fun, more creative. I loved it from the get-go. I knew that I had to give novel writing a shot.
I wrote a book. And then I wrote another book. I was inspired to write, but I was still finding my voice as a novelist. Then, I wrote half a story and didn’t like it so I threw it out. My next novel would be the one, I thought. That’s when I started Summer of ’92.
Ten months later, I have made it all the way through the editing and design process of my first novel and just published last month. I can’t wait for this book to get in front of people.
I don’t intend on it going viral. If only a few people read it, I won’t be disappointed. My only goal of this novel is that a few people read it and are inspired to write or travel just as I was inspired to write by a few independent authors I read. That will mean I have accomplished my goal for this novel.
Publishing this novel became the proudest moment of my life. Holding my own book in my hands was an indescribable feeling.
Feel free to read a little more about the novel on Wanderway. I’ve written a blurb for the novel in addition to some insight into my writing process and a few sources of inspiration. It should help you get in the mood of the story and also give you a little background on the characters.