Photography by Danielle Villasana
WORKSHOPS + SEMINARS
WORKSHOPS + SEMINARS
WORKSHOPS + SEMINARS
Excavating The Travel Essay
Four sessions; January 10,17, 24, 31; 12-2pm ET
This course is for anyone who wants to write travel essays that are as vivid as they are insightful. We'll mine old travel journals, photos, correspondences, and conduct original research to write a rich and layered essay. Perhaps it's a story of transformation abroad, of a place that moved you or a stranger who changed your life, a journey that still haunts you, or simply of a distant meal you'll never forget. Or maybe it's a story of migration and identity in a foreign landscape. Over four sessions we’ll push the boundaries of the genre while remaining committed to the heart of the story.
The course begins by reading a broad range of travel essays to understand how different techniques impact the reader. When would an anecdote be more effective than a statistic? How should a writer portray a culture they know little about? We'll break away from the clichés, tropes, and stereotypes that plague travel writing in order to tell an authentic and dynamic story.
Next, we'll dive deep into structure and craft. Whether you're writing a chapter in a memoir, a magazine feature, a letter, or deep captions for a photo essay, we'll cover the pillars of a solid travel story—curiosity, sense of place, a moment in time, local characters, rich context, narrative arc, sensory details—as well as techniques to illustrate it skillfully.
During the course, each participant will write an original travel essay of up to 2,000 words. The stories will be shared with the group and we’ll generate feedback together. Each student will meet virtually with the instructor for comments and edits, including a personalized list of recommendations for places to submit it to.
Between sessions, participants can join the community forum for daily writing exercises, Q+A, and craft discussions led by the instructor.
*One full scholarship is available for a promising writer with a background historically misrepresented or underrepresented in the
travel writing genre.
Crafting the Perfect Pitch
Skills for Writing & Reporting Abroad
The Frontier of Travel Writing
Istanbul + Turquoise Coast
See an unfiltered view of one of the world's best cities—Istanbul!—while sharpening your writing skills in this experiential class. This isn't your typical writing workshop: it's designed to cut through the fluff and explore real issues in travel writing, such as the risks and ethics of writing abroad, and how to craft a truly authentic story that embodies the complexities a place.
Most importantly, we won't do it alone: We'll meet local journalists, see the streets through the eyes of documentary photographers, taste the cuisine of Istanbul's best chefs, and break bread with local communities. After Istanbul, we'll head to a private seaside retreat to use as our writing studio.
This course is structured through writing prompts, on-the-ground reporting, panel discussions, and group workshops to produce a publishable travel feature.
Detailed health and safety guidelines will be issued in Spring 2021. All group sessions and meals will be outdoors and private accommodations are available. Local health protocols will be followed.
WHAT WE'LL DISCOVER
Dinner with a Turkish writer
Urban photography or sketching class
Custom exhibition with artists
A local's perspective tour
Travel writing ethics panel
PUBLISHING YOUR WORK
Historian-led Sultanahmet tour
Film screening on a rooftop
Turkish wine tasting
Dinner with local chef
Fly to Mediteranean town, Kas
Private seaside writing retreat
WHO WE'LL MEET
Danielle's documentary work focuses on human rights, gender, displacement, and health around the world. She’s a National Geographic Explorer, Magnum Foundation awardee, and an International Women's Media Foundation fellow. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, National Geographic, Al Jazeera, and others. daniellevillasana.com
Writer + Editor, GQ Turkey
Barkin is a Turkish author and social media personality. Barkin ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to become the youngest Turk to visit every continent. His storytelling style is aimed to inspire young people to travel and explore everything this world has to offer. He has just published a book based on his journey to Antarctica. barkinozdemir.com
Guide and translator
Elizabet is a longtime licensed guide, translator, and fixer in Turkey (since 1991!) with deep knowledge of its history and cultures. She also works as a location manager and researcher for documentaries and newscasts and guest hosts travel shows. She's worked with National Geographic, Discovery Channel, PBS, BBC, CNN, NY Times, The Times, The Guardian, Vogue, and others. hailizhere.com
WHERE WE'LL STAY
A 4-star boutique historic hotel in Istanbul's charming Cihangir neighborhood—home to local writers, journalists, actors, and artists. It has stylish rooms and a rooftop terrace with views of the Bosphorus.
We have a scenic coastal retreat with stone cottages, a private beach, and organic garden all to ourselves. The host family has lived here for generations and has lots of stories to share with us.
A private studio serves as our main meeting place, classroom, and writing space in Istanbul.
It has spaces to work and
a panoramic terrace
with views of Istanbul's historic skyline.