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On Sale Now:
"Getting Lost: Mishaps of an Accidental Nomad"
Winner of the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop Book Proposal Contest

"When you travel, things go wrong." That might not sound like uplifting advice, but in this hilarious collection of stories about mishaps in faraway places, Dave Fox proves otherwise.
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"Dave Fox's writing is hilarious. It's rare to find a person who has such unique stories to tell and can write about them to boot."

-- Tim Bete, Director of the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop

 

Books for Travel Journalers

This list of books for travel journalers is divided into two categories. "Books for Writers" includes some of my favorite books about writing. These books will help you spark your creativity, stay motivated, and dig deeper into your thoughts as you journal. They also look at the psychology of writing, and tackle issues like writer's block and the curse of perfectionism.

"Inner Journeys" lists my favorite memoirs by writers who have mastered the art of introspective travel writing. These writers successfully weave their outer and inner journeys into stories that capture the full essence of travel. They explore not only the world around them, but also the changes that occur within them as they travel in foreign places.

Books for Writers

 

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
By Natalie Goldberg

In her first book on writing, creativity guru Natalie Goldberg teaches us how to free ourselves from the rigid writing rules we learned in school that restrain our creativity. Through a series of her trademark "timed writing" exercises, Goldberg teaches, "Keep your hand moving.... Don't cross out.... Lose control.... Go for the jugular." She helps us understand why we censor ourselves when we write, and teaches us to break this habit. This book does not teach you to write polished prose. It teaches something much more important -- to write honestly and fearlessly, getting your deepest, first thoughts down on paper.

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Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life
By Natalie Goldberg

In her second book, Goldberg draws from her interest in Zen Buddhism with a series of essays and exercises to help us tap deeper into what we really want to say. She looks at the psychology of writing, tackling writer's block, exploring the solitude that comes with writing, and teaching us to tap our minds, which are "raw, full of energy, alive, and hungry."

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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
By Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird is an odd title for a book about writing. The title is a great example of Lamott's endearing quirkiness, and her courage to get crazy when she writes. With a brilliant sense of humor, Lamott explores the serious frustrations we sometimes face as writers and as humans. She is a vivid storyteller, and draws heavily on experiences in her own life in this book that will teach you not just to become a better writer, but a happier one as well. She comes across more as a friend than a teacher, sharing her experiences as a once-awkward child who found her powerful voice through writing.

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The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Guide to Higher Creativity
By Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron believes we all posess a natural creativity; however, many of us have become "creatively blocked" by fear, jealousy, perfectionism, guilt, and other self-defeating thoughts or behaviors. The Artist's Way is "a course in discovering and recovering your creative self." The book offers 12 weeks worth of exercises to help readers explore the things in their lives that hold them back from tapping their full creative potential. Methodical and inspirational, Cameron helps readers break down the emotional blocks that stop them from realizing their artistic dreams. It's a book for artists of all kinds, from writers to painters to musicians. With writing as a key focus, and "morning page" exercises similar to Natalie Goldberg's timed writing techniques, Cameron helps readers get at what's really on their minds, and encourages them to pour their deeper thoughts down on paper.

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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
By Stephen King

Half autobiography, half practical advice, the legendary suspense writer takes a break from his fiction to share his tale of how he went from living in a trailer park to becoming one of the world's most famous authors. On Writing offers an intimate glimpse into the mind of a writer and teaches the reader to polish his or her own words into prose that flows and holds the reader's interest.

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Writer's Market

If you are interested in taking your travel journals to the next level, and turning them into publishable articles, Writer's Market is packed with publishers looking to buy freelance work. This reference book lists thousands of magazines, newspapers, and websites that work with freelancers, listing important information such as what each publication is looking for, how to submit, what they pay, and what sorts of writers they are willing to work with. This is the freelance writer's bible. If you are looking to sell your writing, Writer's Market will point you in the right directions.

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Inner Journeys

Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone
By Mary Morris

Mary Morris flees a frustrating life in New York and moves to a small Mexican village to work on her writing. A wall divides the village — with rich people on one side, and poor people on the other. And while Morris can afford to live in the materialistically "nicer" part of town, she chooses not to. She feels more at home with the poorer villagers. She befriends a neighbor who struggles to support children fathered by three different men, and wrestles with her own turbulent relationships as she adjusts to her foreign surroundings. Often drifting back to childhood memories in America, Morris paints a gritty picture of the world around her and the world within her. I first read this book many years ago. This book helped me realize how powerful it can be for travel writers to record their inner journeys, using foreign settings around them as a backdrops for self-discovery.

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Travels
By Michael Crichton

The author of novels such as Jurassic Park and the Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton has written a collection of essays about his far-flung travels and how they have affected his life. He loses sleep in Kenya as an elephant threatens to trample him, and argues with a cactus in the California desert, always searching for his Self as he wanders our planet, visiting a long list of destinations from Jamaica to Pakistan to Ireland to Papua New Guinea. The book begins disjointedly with several essays on Crichton's time in medical school, why he hated it, and why he dropped out when he realized he would make more money as a writer than a doctor. While the medical essays seem out of place in a book about travel, they are riviting stories I never would have thought to read otherwise. Once he gets into his journeys, he offers tales that are sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing, about his explorations of our planet and his mind.

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The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia
By Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux has never been the most culturally sensitive of travel writers. Some people find him offensive. I admire him for his honesty — for saying what he really thinks as he moves from country to country. The Great Railway Bazaar is a brilliant piece of travel literature in which Theroux winds his way across Asia by train. Most of the book takes place on the trains themselves — exploring the concept that often, it's the journey, not the destination, that is most important. Of all the travel writers I have read, no one has the ability Paul Theroux has to make me feel like I'm really there. His eye for detail is extraordinary.

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The Road Within: True Stories of Transformation and the Soul
Edited by Sean, James, and Tim O'Reilly

Few books embrace the concept of an "inner journey" as fully as The Road Within, a collection of travel short stories by writers who understand that, as the book's introduction explains, "some journeys are destined to alter our lives irrevocably."

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Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs, and Declarations of Independence
By John Hockenberry

John Hockenberry, a journalist for National Public Radio and NBC News, has reported from some of the world's most turbulent places: Somalia, Iran, and Iraqi-controlled Kurdistan to name a few. Paralized from the waist down since age 19, he has done it all from a wheelchair. During the 1991 Gulf War, he reported from Israel as Iraqi Scud missiles rained down around him, and writes of his frustration that the network would not send him to Baghdad because of his paralysis. He tells of his application to become the first journalist in outer space, and how he convinced some at NASA that his disability would actually put him at an advantage in zero-gravity. Hockenberry writes about himself with brutal honesty, explaining how he has pursued a career many would consider impossible for anyone who is wheelchair bound. He is angry and unapologetic. What is inspirational about this book is that he makes a clear effort not to sound inspirational. He's not looking for sympathy; on the contrary, he seems to hate sympathy. He is a journalist with an unusual story about himself. He reports the facts of his world and his emotions, giving readers remarkable access into his mind and adventures.

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