Writing Assignment: Travel Journals Redux

by Randy Murray on July 22, 2011

Purposeful writing, as distinct from specific-purpose writing, is an excellent way to practice writing skills. It also helps to set one at ease with writing regularly. The travel journal, as I’ve mentioned before, is an excellent tool for growing one’s skills. But there’s much more that can be done with a travel journal.

One way to strengthen the usefulness of a travel journal is to prepare it, seeding the days and events, before one’s journey. Rather than using a calendar or simple agenda, this seeding can include things to think about, mental tasks, questions for your traveling future self, and your own writing assignments. Once you have populated your journal with these, read your journal early every morning of your journey and prepare yourself, not just for what you’ll do and see, but what you’ll write about during the day.

For example, let’s say that on Thursday next you’ll be visiting Blackbeard’s island, Ocracoke. Normally you’d make your entry at the end of the day and recount the things you saw and did. But to seed your journal before the journey you might make an entry like this:

“Be sure and take note of the ferry crossing. Look for the channel markers and the birds that roost on them. Make notes, but take no photographs. Can I make clear enough notes to identify the bird from them when I return?

While on the island, acquire an eyepatch and wear it. Note how people react to you and how your perceptions change.”

Or you could simply say, “Be sure and stop at the Jolly Roger Pub. Sit there a while and enjoy yourself.”

At the end of the day you can respond to these requests and seeds, or not. It’s your vacation, after all.

Enjoy your trip!

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