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Travel the World with Journalism

The day before Lauren Razavi was due to jet off to Bali, I was lucky enough to talk to her about her career as a freelance journalist and travel writer. She graduated with a degree in International Relations, and spent a lot of her undergraduate years contributing to student newspaper, Concrete.

She said: “I really enjoyed my time contributing to Concrete. It was a really good experience being in a community of writers for the first time and learning skills that would be handy down the line.

“One of my claims to fame is I was the only writer to contribute to every section of Concrete, apart from sport. I mainly wrote features, which is what I do professionally now. I was features Editor for a semester in second year, but found that I wasn’t really an editor, because I liked writing so much. I found it quite difficult to balance editing other people’s work and trying to make it really good.”

Despite thinking she would go into Politics after leaving University, Lauren started freelancing for national newspapers in her second year and decided to carry it on full time after leaving University.

She now contributes to The Guardian, Wanderlust magazine and VICE. Lauren tried ‘desk’ journalism, but found freelancing was for her: “I’m a workaholic, so I like the fact that I don’t have to do my work in a structured way. I’m not five days a week 9-5. I’m kind of seven days a week whenever required but able to take time out when I want to. I quite like being in control of my own career and being able to take it where I want to take it.”

Know your interests 

Lauren has always been interested in travel and started a blog in 2012, as she says she was sick of having to get her phone out to show everyone the photos when she got back. Her interest in people and travel allows her to tell people’s stories and live in their culture; she is not interested in telling people where to go on holiday. She wants to reveal stories. Her MA in Creative Writing, which she did at the University of East Anglia, helps her think about the written word, as she believes there is a difference between writing and reporting.

One place Lauren particularly loved was Rabat, the capital of Morocco. Tourism is not big there, but Lauren wrote about an international music festival and how it is economically rejuvenating the city. She was also lucky enough to go to Calcutta in India on the UEA Creative Writing workshop and would love to go back.

Lauren said: “So it’s a bit funny for me because I’m kind of interested in going everywhere. Instead of having a list of places I want to go, I sort of have a list of about three places that I’m not too bothered about going.”

Anything can be a story

Lauren recommends writing for Student sections of national newspapers, as she did this for The Guardian. She advises: “One of the key things in any kind of journalism, but particularly if you’re a freelancer, is topicality.

“I read two newspapers a day and I watch as much news and documentaries as possible on very current things, keeping an eye on what’s going on. Pay attention to what’s happening around you, anything can be a story. So many stories start from conversations at the pub.” She adds: “It’s also important to learn how to use language concisely.”

Lauren stresses the importance of a good pitch and says: “It’s absolutely pivotal that your pitch gets the attention that it deserves and attracts commission. If you can’t get past the pitching stage, you’ll never get the chance to write anything, at least professionally.” However, she warns that along with sending out hundreds of pitches comes a lot of rejection.

In terms of the future, Lauren does not have a plan, but she is interested in basing herself abroad as a foreign correspondent.

Lauren Razavi is looking for outside contributions to her blog. She is commissioning stories with travel narrative and individuals journeys. The journalist is welcoming pitches and also offers feedback and advice on her website