Tim Voors never dreamed of being writer. As a kid growing up in the hills of Sussex, he was always running around outside and ‘never fully appreciated the world of books’. And as an adult, his work has focused on visual storytelling—he’s Creative Director at an Amsterdam advertising agency. He first got into writing as a way to document and share his adventures in long-distance trekking across the US and Japan. (Check out his blog Random Trail Tales.) After being approached by a publisher to write a book about his cross-country travels, Tim signed up for an International Writers’ Collective workshop to improve his skills and quickly got hooked. A Nederlander by birth, Tim now lives with his wife and three teenagers in Broek en Waterland, a village about eight kilometres north of Amsterdam, where they run a small B&B.
Q: What’s your relationship to writing?
Tim: I’m a very visual guy. Growing up in a multi-national household and my terrible spelling meant that I never spent much time writing. When my spelling grades came in low again, I would always tell my mother not to worry, that I would later get a personal secretary to correct all my mistakes. I never did get that personal secretary, but my love for writing did grow.
During my work in advertising I learnt the craft of visual story telling, but only recently I truly came to understand the real power of the written word. The word is so much stronger than images and video.
Q: Why do you write?
Tim: I write because it is a new adventure. Just as exciting and terrifying as climbing a mountain. It pushes me to think clearly and make my thoughts explicit and craft them with words and structure.
Q: What does your process look like?
Tim: I try to write in the mornings before the family wakes up. But it’s harder than I thought, the getting up early bit. I need total silence around me, the slightest noise takes me out of my thoughts. However much I love the International Writers’ Collective classes, the homework still really feels like homework, and is usually postponed to the last moment. Some things never change.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
Tim: I get material from my long-distance walks or asking myself questions and taking the time to reflect and create and articulate answers. But more and more also I get inspiration from my imagination. I believe writing somehow reawakens my childhood fantasy more than anything, opening up new creative fictional worlds.
Q: What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned from the workshop?
Tim: I love the creativity within all the ideas and stories my classmates create every week. They are very talented and the vocabulary that rolls out over the weekly classes is very rich and inspiring. It’s always fascinating to see how one simple exercise can stimulate such a wide range of different stories. It helps to hear the smart tips and tricks other classmates use in cracking the exercises. The direct feedback and reading out loud is very real, in your face and valuable. You can’t hide behind ‘The dog ate my homework’.
Q: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve written about?
Tim: I wrote about ‘BronyCon’ the world’s largest ‘My Little Pony’ convention. For all those who have no idea what Bronies are, I can highly recommend the documentary: Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony.
Q: What do you hope to achieve in the next year?
Tim: I hope to learn by doing. Doing exercises in order to help me craft a book which I have been invited to write. Scary, but fun. A big adventure, lots to learn and a lot of hours of writing and rewriting ahead of me. As Johan Cruyff said: ‘You can’t score if you don’t shoot’.