I can still hear my Dad’s words in my head as clearly as they were spoken to me when I nervously presented my first report card to him, back in first grade.
“Jim, it doesn’t matter what the grades are as long as you tried your best.”
Unfortunately for me, back then, in addition to categories such as “Listening Skills” and “Penmanship,” a 1-to-5 rating was issued in the category of “Effort.”
The negative report made for a few long and lonely days spent upstairs in my room.
However, over the course of the 15+ years of schooling that followed as I heard the the phrase repeated year-in and year-out, I came to appreciate and understand the purpose of my Dad’s urgencies in my approach towards school. And in the 10+ years since then, I have grown to embrace it as a philosophy for my everyday life.
This is why, when I recently made the decision to quit my corporate job, sell my car and give up my home in order to travel the world and write about my experiences, I did so seriously, and invested in my own professional development as a Travel Writer by joining MatadorU.
If you are a fellow travel enthusiast and not yet familiar with Matador Network, I encourage you to visit the site and explore the various channels. There truly is something of interest for everyone.
The new media school, MatadorU, offers a 12-week course in both travel writing and travel photography. Another course, in filmmaking, is coming later in 2011.
I chose to start with the course in travel writing, and have been pleasantly surprised to find it offering significantly more than just advice on grammar, punctuation and writing styles.
The nature of the travel writing program allows you to interact directly with the experienced editors of Matador Network, and the coursework provides guidance on everything needed to improve your writing, build and market a blog, and compete for paid writing assignments.
The following is an outline of the coursework:
CHAPTER 1 – Travel Writing: From Ancient Origins to Today’s Opportunities
CHAPTER 2 – Understanding the Structure and Techniques of Travel Writing
CHAPTER 3 – How to Bring Your Storytelling Voice to Life
CHAPTER 4 – Story Forms and How They Fit in Travel Writing Markets
CHAPTER 5 – How to Research, Plan, and Prepare for a Paid Writing Assignment
CHAPTER 6 – Developing a Publication Mindset by Thinking Like an Editor
CHAPTER 7 – Myths vs. Realities: 9 Things You Need to Make Travel Writing Your Career
CHAPTER 8 – Press Trips, Guidebooks, and Other Projects: How to Manage Writing Assignments for Maximum Productivity
CHAPTER 9 – Building and Keeping an Audience Online by Mastering Social Media
CHAPTER 10 – How to Capitalize on New Media and SEO for Monetizing your Blog and Paying for Your Travels
CHAPTER 11 – A Travel Writer’s Tools for Writing, Editing, Audio, and Video
CHAPTER 12 – Living the Dream: How to Launch, Sustain, and Advance Your Travel Writing Career
Although it is termed to be a 12-week program, the course materials (as well as the Market Blog – a list of work leads gathered and shared by the editors of Matador Network) are available for life. Therefore, you can proceed with the readings and assignments at your own pace.
I have enoyed my experience in the travel writing program immensely thus far, and look forward to completing it over the course of the coming month. I will part-take in the photography program sometime very soon after.
For those that share an interest in travel and the art of writing, photography and/or filmmaking, and are ready to take a serious step towards converting their hobby into an everyday lifestyle, I highly recommend investigating the programs at MatadorU.
Questions or comments about the MatadorU programs? Please share them below!