The highlight of the Kala Ghoda Festival for me was Dilip D’Souza’s travel writing workshop, entitled “Got them old travel writing blues, momma!”. At the end of the two whole day sessions, he revealed that it was his first time to conduct a writing workshop.

Gasp gasp! He is such a gifted facilitator and I’ve experienced many! He was very student-centered. He asked questions that provoked thought. He made sure that everyone shared their perspective, and he was very encouraging to those who were afraid to share their stories. He also played his harmonica before each class and after lunch. He certainly used the strategies of a good international school elementary teacher!


Here are ten lessons I learned from his workshop:

1. Travel is the germinator of creativity. It’s one of the reasons I travel, it’s one of the reasons I write.

2. Keep your eyes open when you travel or go through an experience. This is a lot harder than it sounds. Many people take notes as they do this. Taking photos works best for me.

3. The best workshop is to write write write! That’s why I’ve joined Postaday! I encourage you to do the same if you want to meet your writing goals.

4. Write a strong story lead which makes your reader want more. It’s something I aspire to be more conscious of as I continue to share my tales.

5. Take your readers on a journey. Stand by their side. Give them an experience. Wow. Compelling my readers is definitely something I need to work on.

6. Naresh Fernades is a kick-ass writer. We read two paragraphs of “Tomb Raider”, a travel article published in Transition magazine. Those two paragraphs left me thirsty for more.

7. Writing is in the details. A newspaper editor once told his journalists, “Don’t come back until you know the name of the dog.” Details are my waterloo. Now I want to know the name of everything and will make a patient effort to make my stories come alive with detail.

8. Travel writing is not just about describing a place. It can also be about communicating its atmosphere. I’m not sure if I’m ready to consciously adapt this tip yet since I’m already juggling quite a few factors to consider as I write. But will get there.

9. Stay away from cliches. Enough said.

10. Writing doesn’t have to be a lone venture. Dilip was generous enough to give us his contact details so if we need a constructive critique, he can share some. The class has also tossed around the idea of gathering together once a month to critique each others’ work, with Dilip still leading.

And just like that, a writer’s group is born.