Thrilling First Results of the “Travel Writer Crash Course”

THE FIRST WRITER who read the Travel Writer Crash Course here on the Fear of Writing blog (which takes about 10 minutes to read) did not think she was qualified to participate in the program—but she took the risk of applying and has had a wonderful experience so far. Here is the story behind the story, which I found by accident while grabbing a link for her writer’s bio for Milliver’s Travels. — Milli

UPDATE AUG 2011: Jo Abram (aka JM Merchant) is now a staff member at Milliver’s Travels.

Excerpted from Am I a writer yet? (8/1/11) with permission from blogger JM Merchant

IN MY ATTEMPTS to avoid writing, I found a very interesting website, Fear of Writing. This is run by a wonderful lady called Milli Thornton, who seems to love nothing more than helping writers find their love of writing again.

One of my favorite parts of the blog attached to her website is the regular 10K days. Two of these days are scheduled every month, and the aim is for each participant to write 10,000 words in one day, or simply as many as they can manage. Though I haven’t taken part in one yet, from reading the blog there is a great community feel to these days. I can’t wait for the August dates to come around, and I’m hoping to use these days to help me make progress on my novel.

Milli runs a couple of other blogs, including Milliver’s Travels. On Friday, a notice popped up in my Twitter feed about a travel writing crash course. I assumed that would be literally all it was, just another writing course, but no. Milli is offering to tutor people through writing a travel article to be published on her blog.

As soon as I read the post I started thinking Tatapouri, Franz Josef, Rotorua . . . then followed this with “Don’t be daft! You can’t write anything good enough for someone else to post on their site!” But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The post was open somewhere on my desktop all day and I kept coming back to it. That evening I read Milli’s submission guidelines on Milliver’s Travels about 20 times before typing up a tremulous email query.

I read it back several times, let it sit for an hour, read it again and then hit Send.

Now, I certainly wasn’t expecting to hear back from her before the end of the weekend. Milli emailed me back in an hour! And, crikey, was she excited! She’d been hoping for a while now that someone would offer her some New Zealand content—and there I was offering her enough for a potential series of posts.

After reading her reply to my query I literally bounced around the room, cursing and swearing out the nerves and excitement, before composing my reply.

Editor’s note: When I told her she could easily be a repeat guest blogger with all the story material she had mentioned, Jo replied (in part) with, “Oh holy crap, what have I done?!” ;~)

And now I’m halfway through writing the first draft of my first article! Hopefully it’ll be finished tomorrow evening, then I can send it to Milli and wait for her judgement. It’s a scary experience, knowing you have the attention of someone whose work you’ve been reading from afar and have come to think of as an expert in their field.

Despite being scared I’m very excited as well. I’m hoping this experience, while getting my work seen by a wider audience, will also kickstart my other writing projects and allow me to work on them in a happier and more productive manner.

Editor’s note: After completing her first story for Milliver’s (and before even seeing it published), Jo was so excited and inspired, she was already planning her next New Zealand story—as well as a story about one of her favorite haunts in London, where she lives. Thanks, Jo!

Anyone else out there game to follow in Jo’s footsteps? Remember, stories about attractions from your local area will delight me just as much as exotic locations.


See the results of Jo’s first writerly act of derring-do on Milliver’s Travels:

Tatapouri, New Zealand by guest blogger JM Merchant

Take the crash course and send me a story idea:

Travel Writer Crash Course


Guest blogger JM Merchant

JM Merchant

JM Merchant (or Jo Abram to most) lives in the North End of London, although she aspires to the West End. An occasionally employed sound engineer and stage manager, most of her time is currently spent reading pirate tales as she works on her first novel. She blogs and posts short stories at Am I A Writer Yet? and tweets as @JeffPipJo.

7 Responses to Thrilling First Results of the “Travel Writer Crash Course”
  1. Patti Stafford
    Twitter: pattistafford
    August 4, 2011 | 7:19 AM

    Awesome post, Jo. Thanks for sharing your story. I haven’t made it to Milliver’s yet, but I will ASAP.

    Best of luck to you!

    Note to Editor: I’ve been reading everything through email, just haven’t had time to get by either site and leave comments. I did enjoy the post on the travel writing crash course. 🙂

    Will catch you both when I can!


    • JM Merchant
      Twitter: jmmerchant86
      August 4, 2011 | 9:39 AM

      Thanks for the hugs Patti 🙂
      Look forward to seeing you over at MT, maybe you’ll even join us on the guest blogger team.


  2. Lois
    August 18, 2011 | 3:17 PM

    This article has me excited! 😀 I’ve been wanting to check out one of the attractions in our area. I need to talk to my hubby about it so I can know for sure. If we don’t do what I have in mind, maybe we can do something else.

    Thanks for this! 🙂


    • JM Merchant
      Twitter: jmmerchant86
      August 19, 2011 | 9:25 AM

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article Lois! Do it, get out there and write about any attraction or experience, local or otherwise. My next MT article, which I think goes live next Wednesday, is about an event I worked on at The Southbank Centre in London.
      Now pretty much everything I do I’m thinking about whether I can turn it into an MT article. Even considering a review of the pub I work at just for the hell of it 😀

      Excited to see what you produce.

      • Lois
        August 19, 2011 | 10:00 AM

        So am I! 😉

        • Fear of Writing
          Twitter: fearofwriting
          August 19, 2011 | 12:36 PM

          Lois – Are you subscribed to Milliver’s Travels? I know you’ve enjoyed a few stories on the site (we even converted you to drinking breves, hehe) and I think if you read MT travel stories on a regular basis you would be SO inspired to try some local activities it would be hard to keep you away. 😀

          Jo – I love the way your mind works! I thought I was the only one who does that (i.e., looks at the world through the eyes of “Could this be a story for Milliver’s Travels?”) You can be my new recruiting officer – LOL!

          By the way, I only have one story for the beer category, so a post about the pub you work in would be very welcome. And fun.

          • Lois
            August 19, 2011 | 4:45 PM

            I thought I was subscribed, but I don’t always get the posts. I’ll see what I can do about catching up. 🙂

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