We MapQuest editors just published “11 Ways to Survive Thanksgiving Travel Season.” Read them or else you might get stuck in traffic, miss Thanksgiving dinner, and really piss off your nana. And you don’t want to piss off your nana, do you?
Tag Archives | Writing
Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island is on a path to destroy the town of Pahoa, home to 950 people. I visited the volcano in 2011 with Photo Safari Hawaii, on assignment for Air Canada’s enRoute. My article explores what it’s like to take a photo lesson on an active volcano. The videos show a little slice of life there—especially the last one, which is of a local resident explaining life on the volcano. At the end of the post is a gallery of photos from my lesson.
How to Write a Book (which I haven’t done) quoted me on how to find your writing voice (which I think I did at one point but then lost it):
Thanks to Lisa Tener for including me in her article.
Last week my family and I went on the Disney Dream for a three-day cruise of the Bahamas. While I was there to research Disney Cruise Line’s Halloween and holiday activities for MapQuest videos, a bunch of friends asked me via social media more generic questions about going on a Disney Cruise. So I’m going to answer them in a Q&A article for MapQuest too.
Have any Disney Cruise questions for me? Add them to the comments or email them to me at email@example.com. Thanks!
Conducting background research (“Googling” to the layperson) for my article on my Boston trip for MapQuest, I came across “Lifers seek new trial in Charlestown case” by John R. Ellement in the “Boston Globe.” Check out this lede:
A father and son serving life in prison for the 99 Restaurant massacre in 1995 are demanding a new trial, alleging that police undercut their self-defense claims by withholding information showing that some of the victims were alleged Mafia members, not simply ordinary North End residents lunching in Charlestown.
Short of references to sports and Dunkin’ Donuts, it seems to hit on every major theme of life in Boston:
- the Mafia
- Mafia murders
- the 99 Restaurant
- allegations of police misconduct
- “ordinary North End residents”
- “lunching in Charlestown”
Thanks to everyone who watched me start writing my article yesterday for MapQuest about my recent visit to Boston. Overall, I found the experience positive. As for viewers, well, you were promised a video live stream of a guy writing an article and real-time access to the Google document. So hopefully your expectations were low but exceeded.
A few thoughts:
- At first, having an audience influenced my writing, making me feel like I needed to have a readable narrative upfront. As time passed, peer pressure became less of an issue.
- I usually take more breaks than I did today. And spend more time on social media, checking RSS feeds, etc. So thanks for keeping me on track.
- I felt exhausted afterwards, but that might have been because I skipped my morning snack so as to spare viewers the sight of me eating oatmeal.
- I’m probably going to do it again (call it Zach Write Live, or something).
Did you watch? If so, please let me know your thoughts in the comments. Thanks!
“The New York Times” recently launched Times Insider, which “takes readers behind the scenes of the New York Times newsroom to show how its journalists around the globe work and how decisions are made.”
Seeing how the “Times” is this blog’s chief competitor, I’m going to try to one up it.
Today, I’m working on the first draft of an article about my recent visit to Boston (I was born there and grew up 15 miles north of the city, but haven’t had much opportunity to explore the city since). It’s part of MapQuest’s 99 Summer Travel Quests series. While traveling around Boston, I shared the experience in real-time via Tweets, Instagram posts, and Facebook updates. And now I’m letting anyone watch me write the article. Seriously:
- Access the document via Google Drive
- Watch me type, drink, and maybe scratch my ear and other parts of my anatomy live on Ustream (also embedded at the top of this post)
- Listen to the music on Spotify that I’m using to block out other sounds in the office
Those links will be live from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT today. A couple caveats:
- If I’m not there, assume I’m in the restroom and/or getting a snack, and will be back shortly.
- You might see big blocks of text pasted into the document. I’m not cheating. Those are notes and I’m copying them from iA Writer, the app I typically use for writing an article.
It’s been a bit since I posted about what we’re working on at MapQuest. Here’s a quick rundown:
Launched editorial content on a spiffy new template
Editorial content (“articles” to the lay person) debuted on MapQuest in June. The first big template blowout we did was for “Prince’s ‘Purple Rain': A 30th Anniversary Tour of Minneapolis to Die 4.”
Debuted editorial content in MapQuest’s apps
Editorial travel content in a navigation app, right where people need it most. Version 4.4 of the iPhone app, released in early July, includes gameday guides to all 30 MLB ballparks, in which local experts share their insights about their home field. (You can view the gameday guides on the World Wide Web too.)
Published a “99 Summer Quests” series
For summer 2014, MapQuest is running a “99 Summer Quests” series, with 99 articles highlighting “memorable, meaningful, just-gotta-do-it experiences for every day of summer vacation.”
Started a celebrity-traveler interview series
Debuted pop culture tours
Remembered the aforelinkedto Prince article? Of course you do! Several more posts that blend travel with pop culture are forthcoming.
Engaged in social media
You can’t publish articles without sharing them with an engaged audience these days. To that extent, we’ve been focusing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +. And we just packaged our content in five Flipboard magazines too.
Published lots and lots of articles
While we’ve built up a deep network of contributors, I’ve managed to get myself some fun writing assignments:
- “Shag in North Myrtle Beach“
- “Soak in America’s Oldest Spa“
- “Salute the 200th Anniversary of the ‘Star-Spangled Banner'”
- “Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Opens at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom”
- “‘Million Dollar Arm’ Director Gillespie Discusses Filming, Traveling in India”
Photo: Courtesy MapQuest
Photo: Courtesy Zintro
The Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), of which I’m a member, interviewed me recently for its website and newsletter:
Many thanks to SATW and Fred Wright, Jr., who conducted the interview, for giving me the opportunity to reach out to such an strong pool of writers.
Photo: Courtesy SATW