MatadorU graduate Tony Toto completed all 12 chapters of our Travel Writing course, as well as the bonus material, in record time: 2 1/2 months!

Like most of us, Tony has a full-time job and a lot on his plate…so how did he complete the course so quickly?

By staying focused, setting goals, and prioritizing his time.

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JJ: How did you learn about MatadorU, and what did you hope to learn?

TT: I was working on my “Project Relocation,” researching other countries to move to. During the phase I was in, I was specifically looking for different ways to make money to sustain myself while living abroad. I started looking into travel writing as one means to make money. Being the Google junkie I am, I came across a MatadorU ad that said “Get Paid To Travel The World.” What caught my eye was the logo. I clicked on it and the rest is history.

I was hoping to learn how to properly structure travel articles that would be strong for publication, how to write a clear, concise, and tight pitch / query letter to editors, and have access to a community for ongoing support. Being surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals is beneficial and vital to ones’ personal growth in any industry. I found all three with MatadorU!

What are your travel media goals?

My short-term goal is to have 3-5 articles published in the next 6 months. If I get more published, great, but if I reach my goal I will be content. I will work for more but I see my short-term goal as a stepping stone for more opportunities…opportunities that will find me as opposed to me always looking for them.

A long-term goal of mine is to travel to Uruguay and write about my experiences, whether I find a story for myself that I want to write or if I get an assignment. I would enjoy becoming an expert in areas of Uruguay. After researching the country, a universal force is pulling me there.

Did you set out to complete the MatadorU Travel Writing course in a certain amount of time, or did you just find yourself moving quickly through the coursework?

I did set out to complete the course in a certain amount of time. I set the goal to read one chapter a week and complete the corresponding assignment / exercise as well during that time frame. I felt that goal was achievable and it worked out better than I expected.

I will say that I found myself working through the coursework quickly because I wanted to learn and apply. Writing is my creative outlet and I felt a lot of positive energy while reading and working through the travel writing course.

What was your strategy for keeping motivated? Do you set goals? Keep a calendar? Schedule your MatU time?

I didn’t have a strategy to stay motivated because the excitement of this amazing opportunity was my drive. I woke up every morning at 5am to read and/or write for 1-2 hours before getting ready for work. After I got home from work and ate dinner, I read and wrote for another hour or two before calling it a day. I spent my days off focused on the coursework, researching and working on the exercises or assignments. And yes, I “calendarized” my life!!

I understand you work full time. How do you balance working on your travel media craft with the demands of life?

I have done a lot of personal growth and development and at this point in my life, I had let go of a lot of “things” that no longer served me. This allowed me to really find out who I am and what it is I want to do with the rest of my life.

After analyzing and clearly seeing the life I want to live based on my values, it is much easier to balance the demands of life because I focus on what makes me happy and content while still making a positive impact on the lives of others that cross my path.

You advised the MatadorU Facebook group to “Find your creative inspiration and let it shine!” What is your creative inspiration?

I love giving to others. If people can find something positive in my storytelling that enhances their well-being or gives them a moment of joy, this is what makes me happy. If my words inspire or motivate people to take action to learn something new, this definitely puts a smile on my face.

What would you say to people who say they don’t have enough time to work on their writing/photography/craft?

I would tell them to start analyzing their day. Many people make excuses just to make excuses, especially when they say ‘I don’t have enough time.’ If this is the case, look at your day. What may seem important to you may not necessarily benefit your life that much or move you forward to live the life you truly want to live.

The classic example is TV. Many people would rather veg in front of the TV than work on something that makes them truly feel alive. The choice is yours — choose wisely.

For more, follow Tony on Twitter @tony6644 and check out his blog, The Walking Traveler.