Student Stories

Richard Villar

So, you want to be a travel journalist? Well look no further than this course. But remember, any course expects a student to work hard. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

The Ultimate Travel Journalism Course offered by the British College of Journalism has clearly been well designed and considered. Before I undertook the course, I had plenty of years of writing under my belt, several books published, an active blog, and a fair few articles out there. Even so, I learned plenty.

I learned how to make myself heard in the huge global market, where so many good writers disappear in an instant. I also learned that good writing is manifestly important, but knowing where to place my work, how to develop contacts, and how to phrase my pitches in the most convincing way, is essential.

Although the course can be completed in three months, doing so was not going to be possible for me as I was travelling and had too little time at my desk. It took me five months in the end (though the College allows you up to two years to complete), and I found this allowed me to focus on my assignments and offer up my best efforts. I learned quickly that I can write when I travel, but I could produce better work when back home in my office, door closed, coffee brewing and family locked out of earshot. I was surprised to find that most travel writers spend more time writing and pitching then actually travelling when I’d always imagined the complete opposite.

My tutor was brilliant. He was prompt with his replies and, when I made a hash of things, he was decent enough to tell me politely. It was just what I needed. Never once did I feel my work had not been properly considered.

The course is offered by distance education which is fitting. It’s similar to that of the life travel journalists lead. They communicate by email, social media and telephone. They can be writing for a publication on the far side of the world. Only occasionally will travel journalists physically meet individuals from the publication for which they are writing, so an online distance learning course sets the scene for what is to follow.

I liked all the assignments but I best enjoyed the one that involved photography, as I am the world’s most useless photographer. I had not realised how important pictures were when it comes to pitching a story. I understand that now and find myself with a small camera permanently to hand, photographing anything and everything that moves, while focusing more on people than places.

Now I have completed the course, what is there to follow? BCJ has set me up to do what is needed. It is down to me to do my best hereafter. Should you do it? Of course, you should.

And my next move? I knew you would ask. I am writing a couple of travel books right now, drinking too much – caffeine that is – eating too much, but enjoying the process. Thank you, BCJ. I am indebted to you.

 

Richard Villar

To read some of Richard's work, visit: www.neverastraightline.com
Richard Villar
I learned how to make myself heard in the huge global market, where so many good writers disappear in an instant. I also learned that good writing is manifestly important, but knowing where to place my work, how to develop contacts, and how to phrase my pitches in the most convincing way, is essential.

Richard Villar

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