Three versions of the real: Travel Writing

After publishing the first workshop of our 1st. EACWP Teachers Training Course (Alain André’s “Out of the ivory tower” ), this publication seeks to feature Leen van der Berg’s proposal regarding Travel Writing. Thanks to our colleague Daniéle Pètrés (Aleph-Écriture) the three main pedagogical sessions of our pedagogical journey in Normandy (July, 2017) have been reviewed and published in L’Inventoire, as part of a first hand testimony. Leen van der Berg’s contribution is, then, the second delivery of this teachers’ training series

«Travel Writing», a workshop by Leen van den Berg (writer and professor of creative writing / Belgium)

“The real journey of discovery is not to look for new landscapes but to see with new eyes” (Marcel Proust).

Leen van den Berg

Among all the themes we have tackled: composing a poem, building a character for a screenplay at different ages of life, we have chosen to share with you some inspiring advice in the form of a list, to write a travel journal.

According to Leen van den Berg, the journey allows us to take a new look at the world around us and come back to it differently.

But how to keep a travel journal to turn it back into a travel story? This was the objective of the workshop, for which Leen van den Berg offered us some tools to slip into our luggage. From its captivating and elaborated workshop, which we cannot reproduce here in its complexity, here are some tips that we have isolated and that can structure your notebooks!

Leen van den Berg advocates the simple question: “What is the meaning of this journey? “. Then, go from the anecdotal to the meaning you give to the story you want to tell.

1- Every day, note at least one detail of what you could see amazing in the day.

2 – From this list of details, choose one with a striking image (an enigmatic scene that can become the metaphor of your narrative), and write about ten lines on it.

3 – Choose the important sentences of this story. Amongst them a title or a chapter entry of the newspaper can be released.

4 – Write entire scenes corresponding to them.

5 – Reread your notes, and make a list of the best scenes that you would like to deepen to develop your narrative along a specific axis.

And do not forget “Show, do not tell” (show, do not tell, prefer sensations, descriptions). We wish you a safe journey!

About Leen van den Berg

Leen van den Berg was born in Brussels. Since 1997 she is teaching creative writing at two art academies in Belgium (Hasselt and Haasrode, Louvain). She also gives creative writing workshops in Capetown (South-Africa) and Paramaribo (Suriname). She is training teachers in creative writing, commissioned by the Flemish writers platform and organization Creatief Schrijven.

Leen is active as a writer for adults and children. As an historian and psychoanalyst she is especially interested in writing historical and psychological novels. Her most recent novel is a psychological story in the colonial setting of the Congo of king Leopold II. She is convinced that, whatever fiction you write, you always write somehow from the real.

Some of her books were translated into French. Her illustrated book The big question won a White Raven and was translated into 12 languages. The first translation of her most recent novel Son in Congo will appear in the next months. (Visit:

 About L’Inventoire

L’Inventoire is an online magazine for anybody passionate about literature edited by Aleph-Écriture. It offers interviews with authors, suggestions to get you writing, educational lectures and literature columns.

An initiative from training centre Aleph-Écriture and supported by the European Association of Creative Writing Programmes (EACWP), L’Inventoire is open to writers, readers, teachers of creative writing and literature and librarians. L’Inventoire is a hothouse for literature, reflexivity and collaboration. /