One of the dumbest things travel writers do is draw incredibly limiting boxes around themselves and call those boxes a “niche.”
Yes, it’s important to know what places and subjects interest you the most. It’s also important to know what kinds of pieces you write best–service, destination, narrative, or something else entirely. But it’s equally important, after you’ve defined these aspects of yourself as a writer, to stay open enough to opportunities and possibilities that you are not just willing to look for stories almost anywhere, but you’re driven to do so.
I spent several hours today at one of Mexico City’s most upscale hotels, meeting with the property’s public relations representative. Most of the excellent writers I know probably wouldn’t step foot in the hotel. It wouldn’t occur to them to contact someone to request a meeting because they’ve drawn the box around themselves that says “I’m not interested in big/luxury hotels.”*
But what a mistake.
Over lunch, the PR rep happened to mention that another person who had just spoken with us briefly had played a primary role in developing and presenting Mexico’s application for the UNESCO designation of intangible heritage status for its culinary traditions… which was approved in Nairobi, Kenya last month.
I’ll be meeting with him on Sunday before I fly back to NYC to interview him about the experience.
Remember: Good stories can be found everywhere. Even in the places that you think don’t interest you.
*For the record, I’m not necessarily “interested” in them either– not as a subject of narrative writing.