I recently took a trip to Mali, West Africa, with Northwest Medical Teams. It was a great experience, and one of the best parts about it was the break in my writing routine it brought about. Before we went, I decided that I was going to journal the experience in some solid detail, but also that I would write in such a way that I could later share it with others.
It was quite refreshing to take on a totally different type of writing. Where fiction (my fiction at least) dictates a fair amount of structure–you need to set the scene, have a clear direction, no long, rambling descriptions unless there’s a point–journaling opens up whole new worlds of looseness.
Another plus was reading it aloud to my wife, Amber, at several points along the way. She was quite encouraging, letting me know that I’d done a good job capturing the essence of what the trip was like.
I’m planning to do some minor editing–just fixing blatant grammar and spelling problems, that sort of stuff–and that is also a nice break. I want the piece to have a fairly rough feel to it, so the normal process of polish, polish, polish isn’t really called for.
I might post it online once I’m done, along with some photos. Not going to spend much time here talking about it, but as a writing exercise, I’ve got to say that travel journaling has been a wonderful change of pace.