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Travel and Transformation writing workshop

Posted by on 2013/04/27
Travel writers Lavinia Spalding and Rolf Potts

Travel writers Lavinia Spalding and Rolf Potts

Today Ed attended the “Travel and Transformation” workshop in Mystic. The workshop was the first in a series at Mystic’s Riverlight Center.

Friday night they had a reading and Q&A. Today’s workshops covered ethics, business, editors, capturing experience and small group work. It was money well spent.

(And hopefully Ed learned something that will make the book better…)

Rolf Potts made a comment that made us remember Stefan Sagmeister’s practice of taking a full year off after every seven years of work. Life Optimizer picked up this story with a nice writeup in 2010.

Old way of working

Old way of working

New way of working

New way of working

Sagmeister doesn’t actually retire from work during that year, he just closes his “normal” business and does other work – hard work – but for himself and not for clients. Rolf’s concept is to build your own “Travel Nest Egg”: save specifically for travel and then go without guilt.  He said there should be a better name for the regular sabbaticals. Stefan called it the “seven year itch”, if that works better. Hebrew uses the word Shmita for a farming fallow period every seven years. “I’m taking a shmita year” doesn’t really have the same ring, but taking a sabbatical year already has a different meaning, so that won’t work. And “Long Vacation” is pretty boring.

Google is known for allowing employees 20% time to use for personal side projects. 3M is often cited for 15% time that produced the sticky note adhesive. FEDEX sets aside whole days where employees are allowed to work with whomever they wish, not just their own work team. Franklin Covey calls for one day each week and other scheduled time to “sharpen the saw”, a concept better stated in this old quip attributed to Abraham Lincoln:

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six hours sharpening my ax”

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax”

However you chop it, time away helps recharge the batteries, find new perspectives, gather raw material and make new and better connections.

Why are we so interested in this? Because we too want a regular name for what we’re doing. Our tagline “outdistance the impossible” shortened to OTI might be a good new word. We’re taking an oti year. Oti sight, oti mind.

Sorry, we’ll stop now. Go be amazing.


Stefan Sagmeister’s TED talk here:


Event information (for future reference) is below.

Lavinia Spalding: http://laviniaspalding.com

Rolf Potts: http://rolfpotts.com

Friday Evening, April 26, 7– 9pm:

  • Introduction, readings, and discussion; go behind the scenes of a travel writer’s world; learn the business of travel writing and how to document the transformative experience of travel.

Saturday, April 27, 9am – 5pm:

  • The art, ethics, and industry of travel writing
  • Travel journaling – how to record and describe the travel experience
  • The business of travel writing – types of travel writing, getting paid to travel
  • Working with editors – magazines, newspapers, websites, books, literary journals, anthologies.
  • The transformative experience of travel – past, present and future
  • Small group writing activities – Optional writing sample consultation

Riverlight Wellness Center, 107 Wilcox Road, Stonington, CT

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