Pól Ó Conghaile: A travel writer's tip that will help you master the brief moment
Travel writing is suffering from clichés. The ‘hidden gem’; the ‘city of contrasts’; the ‘bustling market’. Used frequently, terms like these suck the life span out of places, boring readers instead of inspiring them.
How in order to avoid these traps?
I encourage writers to talk with the senses. Never to look at a scene just, but to ask: ‘What am I seeing? So what can I hear, taste, smell and feel?’
Instead of this lazy ‘bustling market’ line, zero in on the grumpy man selling green sprigs of mint, or the slap-thunk sounds of fish being chopped and gutted.
Reach past that ‘charming’ country house or ‘azure’ ocean for personal descriptions that put us there with you – ‘the room feels as though a hug’, or ‘I taste salt on my lips’.
Spark a human connection. Make us care.
This notion of inhabiting an instant found mind when I read that Bali’s Ayana Resort and Spa (below) has banned the use of phones around among its pools.
Yes, it gets the whiff of a PR gimmick (here I’m, authoring it).
But in addition, it speaks to very un-gimmicky concerns: our anxiety about 24/7 connectivity, our consistant state of distractedness, our penchant for travelling predicated on ‘Instagramability’, instead of what’s happening outside and inside the frame.
Clearly, our devices have enormous benefits, and technology isn’t heading back in the bottle. But it’s healthy to question how exactly we utilize it.
When I awaken, have a break, sit back or see something unusual or new, my first reaction may be the same – I grab my phone often.
I’ve been thinking a whole lot relating to this lately. So a lot of my screentime feels flittery and distracted, snacky and bitty than focused and purposeful rather. However when I found out about the Bali phone ban, it gave me an basic idea. You will want to take that old travel writing trick, and apply it alive?
So a lunch was eaten by me without scrolling through news feeds. A walk was taken by me without hearing a podcast. I watched that which was going on around me; I let my thoughts have a play.
In a café with my eight-year-old son, a casino game was played by us – closing our eyes and listing things we noticed, from chats all around us to the smell of toasties.
Forget FOMO. This is a giggle-inducing hit of JOMO (Joy of REALLY MISSING OUT).
We don’t need phone bans. We need just, every and then now, to decelerate. To check and listen actively. To notice the tiny stuff hiding in plain sight, to visit in the brief moments all around us.
We do not require techniques, or even to be worried about being mindful or daydreaming. There is no need to take down notes (unless you’re writing for Independent.ie Travel, needless to say).
Just re-connect with real life, utilizing a filter Instagram could never invent: yourself.