“First Fridays” Travel Writing Mentoring
In 2022, I ran a bunch of online travel writing mentoring sessions, primarily to raise a little money for humanitarian efforts in the Ukraine but also to support writers at the start of their careers. It was also something to make me feel more positive and a way to do some form of community service. The uptake was much greater than expected. More than 20 people got in touch and I ended up doing 15 one-to-one Zoom sessions. I found them incredibly satisfying.
So, I decided to start running these sessions monthly, held online on the first Friday of each month. They are offered in return for a donation to charity. If you are interested, please read the following to find out more.
What are the travel writing mentoring sessions like?
A session isn’t one size fits all. It isn’t a fixed class. Each one runs for about an hour and the focus is up to the participant. Some people have wanted to discuss their freelance business plans or talk about how/what/who to pitch. Others have wanted to discuss specific pitches or get feedback on a writing sample. Some have wanted help building a strategy for transitioning from teaching to writing (like I did here in Japan), or for going from writing for Japan-based media to also writing for markets overseas. A few have wanted to share the frustrations they’ve encountered and then get some advice.
When a participant isn’t entirely sure what they want to focus on, I often send them this blogpost about freelancing, and then we can home in some of the points it covers. With a few emails or DMs prior to a session, we can find something to structure a session around.
When and how are the sessions conducted?
Each session is conducted via Zoom. They are one-on-one and last about 60 minutes. These are all done on the first Friday of the month. That’s Oct 6, Nov 3, and Dec 1 for the rest of 2023. I’m based in Tokyo (GMT+9) and can schedule sessions between 8am and 7pm my time. You don’t have to be in Japan – people have done sessions from Australia, the UK, and the US.
How much do you need to donate and to who?
When I started doing these sessions, the deal was for participants to donate a fee of their choice to a specific cause (directly, not via me). The first sessions were related to humanitarian aid in Ukraine, the second group of sessions the 2023 Turkey-Syria earthquake. Now that the sessions are monthly, you can donate to any charity you like. I can suggest a charity if you aren’t sure. How much? There is no fixed amount. If you can afford $100, great. If $10 is a stretch right now, do $5. And it doesn’t have to be money. Last time, one participant decided to donate a few hours of volunteer work in their community.
All that said, donations aren’t essential for everyone. Not all aspiring travel writers have wealthy parents who can support them through unpaid internships or provide a financial safety net during the early years of a career. Nor do we all have country club contacts who can fast-track a media career or a trust fund with which to launch our own indie magazine. So, if you aren’t from a financially privileged background or aren’t able to spare any extra cash, don’t worry about the donation. There’ll be plenty of opportunities down the line for you to do something positive for someone else in return.
How to get in touch?
You can DM me on Instagram or email me (see the email button at the top of the page). Since making these sessions monthly, I’ve had a lot of DMs (about 25 in the first few days), so it really helps me to sieve out the spam if you send a message with a bit of detail – just a sentence or two about your writing goals, for example, or your writing background (if any) so far.