Wednesday, July 28, 2021

WWW: Around the Block Travel Writing

Today’s Writing Workout comes courtesy of Rochelle Melander whose 

debut children’s book Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, 

and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World through Writing 

(Beaming Books, 2021) released just yesterday!

Congratulations, Rochelle, and thank you for sharing your book and 

Writing Smarts with our TeachingAuthors readers!

An artist educator, author and writing coach, Rochelle founded 

Dream Keepers, a writing workshop for young people.  

Mightier Than the Sword, though, is bound to help middle grade 

writers – as well as writers of all ages - keep their writing dreams 

alive. Rochelle shares stories of people throughout history – 

historical and contemporary writers, activists, scientists, and 

leaders - who used their writing to change lives and their 

communities. Think: Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Murasaki 

Shikibu, William Shakespeare, Gene Luen Yang and Jan Morris, just to 

name a few. Each and every story inspires and encourages young 

readers – and writers – “to pay attention to their world, to honor 

their own ideas and dreams, to use their words, art, and action to 

transform their lives communities, and beyond.”  Writing and creative 

exercises accompany each story; sidebars explore types of writing, 

fun facts, and further resources. Rochelle reminds readers: “Your 

words have the power to transform you and your world.”

Mexican artist Melina Ontiveros’ beautiful illustrations bring the 

story subjects to life on the page.

Thanks, Rochelle, for sharing ways to explore the world around us – 

and without even leaving our neighborhood – especially now that 

we’re in a POST-Pandemic World.

Happy Traveling!

Esther Hershenhorn

. . . . . . .

Thankfully, being a writer has 

equipped me with some tools for 

finding novelty in everyday 

life. Here are three ways you can 

use writing to explore the world 

around you (without leaving 

your neighborhood).

(1) Capture a personality!

When she was a young journalist, Jan Morris (1926-2020) covered 

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay as they summited Mount 

Everest, the world’s highest mountain. She went on to become an 

accomplished travel writer, composing literary portraits of Venice, 

Trieste, Wales, Manhattan, Hong Kong, and more. Morris was 

known for writing about places as if they were people, capturing 

their personality. When age and the pandemic limited her travel, 

Morris walked a thousand steps a day—down her lane and back 

again—often writing about her journey. 

Try this: Write a profile of a place you know well—your backyard, 

your neighborhood, or your town. Capture your impression of your 

favorite place. As Morris said, “I resist the idea that travel writing 

has got to be factual.”

(2) Capture danger!

Have you ever wanted to explore a volcano? Rosaly Lopes is a 

Brazilian geologist and volcanologist who studies the surface of 

planets and specializes in examining volcanoes. Her book, The 

Volcano Adventure Guide, introduces readers to volcanoes across 

the planet and offers them tips and tools on how to safely explore 

and photograph active volcanoes. 

Try this: If you had the change to visit an active volcano, what would 

you write on a postcard to your friends and family? Imagine visiting an 

erupting volcano or consider some of the dangerous things you see 

every day (reckless drivers, violent thunderstorms, people texting while 

walking). Write a postcard poem that captures a dangerous event. 

(3) Capture a journey!

When the United States made the Louisiana Purchase, much of the

 newly acquired territory had never been explored. President Thomas 

Jefferson asked Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to find a route 

west. Beginning near St. Louis, Missouri, the two men and their team 

traveled to the West Coast and home again. They chronicled their trip 

in journals. As a result of their travels, they identified and documented 

new plants, animals, and Western geography and created some of the 

first maps of the area. Their journey, maps, and journals opened a new 

frontier for agriculture, trade, and settlements. But their journals also 

captured the spirit of their journey across America and the culture of 

the West of that time.

Try this: Create a travel journal for yourself—but instead of 

documenting a trip, write about your daily life. Journal about your 

morning walk, your trip to a neighborhood park, a local museum, or a 

zoo. Or go internal: and write about a journey through your heart, 

your conscience, or your digestive track! You might even make a map 

of your journey!

Your turn!

How will you capture your world in a new way?

# # #


Sandy Brehl said...

Great ideas, and examples!
Thanks for sharing the prompts here, and for this amazing new book. Bite-sized portions of inspiration and initiatives to use writing as a tool of activism.

The Write Now! Coach said...

Thank you for stopping by and reading, Sandy! And for the kind words!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Rochelle ~ what a terrific a writer you are lighting the candles of young writers, showing the pen's power. Thank you!