Born in Tennessee and raised in Ohio by two English professors, Shoestring Warrior Liv grew up surrounded by words. From an early age, she read everything she could get her hands on, which translated naturally into becoming a writer. In high school she worked on the newspaper, then became editor in chief of her college newspaper.
Something about college made her crave more nature, so at 24, she bought a one-way ticket to California, packed her life into two suitcases, and moved to San Francisco, a city surrounded on three-sides by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
About a year later, she started working as an editor at an outdoors company, which is where our friendship began. In 2016, she joined us on a Shoestring Adventure in Havasupai and wrote about her experience here. Today she works at Instagram on the Community Team, where she finds amazing accounts and people from all over the world and makes stories about them. Dream job!
Learn more about our friend Liv in the interview below, including her advice for aspiring travel writers.
Write. Write a lot. Write every day.
Shoestring Warrior: Liv
San Francisco, CA
Writer and Producer
What are your passions outside of work?
Yoga, pottery, running, and exploring around San Francisco.
How would you describe your level of camping experience?
Shoestring Adventures Trip Completed:
Tell us about yourself!
Hi! I’m Liv. I was born in Tennessee, grew up in Ohio, and moved to San Francisco three and a half years ago in search of… not Ohio. I found it. California is my spirit state, and it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else. I live in San Francisco, which has an amazing mix of urban and outdoors. I work at Instagram on the Community Team, where we find amazing accounts and people from all over the world and make stories about them on the @instagram account (give it a follow!). In my spare time, I like to practice yoga, make pottery, and run.
When did you first discover your love for the outdoors?
I knew I’d love the outdoors before I had any real experience in it. My family is not what you’d call outdoorsy – athletic, yes; outdoorsy, no. I never went camping growing up; we stayed in a cabin without electricity once and if memory serves, we all hated it. Once I got to college, though, something about nature started to attract me. I wanted to learn to ski, to backpack, to cook outdoors and filter water, but no one I knew knew how to do that, and there wasn’t much around me nature-wise that lent itself to learning any of these skills on my own. That was a huge pull to the Bay Area for me – not only did it have the urbanness that I was looking for, the culture and the food and the diversity, but it was surrounded on three sides by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, from Marin to Yosemite, Tahoe to Big Sur. About a year after I moved to San Francisco, I started working at an outdoors company and it became my job of sorts to go camping. It was exactly what I wanted at the time.
When did you first become interested in becoming a writer? What do you like to write about?
I can’t remember not wanting to write. I grew up reading everything, reading fast, and writing was a natural extension of that. Both of my parents are English professors at a small university in Ohio, so I grew up surrounded by words. In high school I worked on the newspaper, I was the editor in chief of my college newspaper, and it’s really organically continued from there!
Which authors/books/blogs inspire you to travel?
Joan Didion. Bill Bryson. Tom Robbins. Cheryl Strayed. Michael Pollan. Rebecca Solnit. These are some of my favorite writers. In terms of travel, nothing inspires me more than Instagram, though! Being able to see into so many different corners of the world still blows my mind.
What is your favorite destination you’ve traveled to on a writing assignment?
Two years ago, I went to Nicaragua for nine days with El Camino Travel. I even got to bring my boyfriend along. It’d take something truly spectacular to top surf lessons, insanely fresh fruit, and swimming in volcanic craters. Although Mexico City and Zion National Park are pretty high up on the list, too. Oh, and Havasupai, of course 🙂
What is your favorite memory from your Shoestring Adventure in Havasupai?
I am very scared of heights and exposure, so climbing down Mooney Falls was honestly one of the more terrifying experiences of my life. It took so much concentration to make it down without freaking out that I was shaking and crying by the time I reached the bottom. I know that doesn’t sound fun, and it wasn’t, but the relief and lightness that I felt as I was splashing around in the falls at the bottom, knowing that this horrible part was over and that I did it, was amazing. Good life lesson in there somewhere.
As a former editor of the Huckberry Journal, what advice do you have for aspiring travel writers? How can they stand out from the crowd?
Oh, man. That’s a great question. I’d say I have the same advice I have for any type of aspiring writer – write. Write a lot. Write every day. Write to do lists. Write social media captions. Write too-long answers when your friend asks you to fill out a questionnaire for Shoestring Adventures. This alone will put you in front of the pack. And then, from there, learn how to pitch well. Terrible pitches are such a huge turn off. If you can find a way to be solving a problem for an editor (aka needing more good writing) rather than creating one (feeling like they’re going to have to do a ton of work on your piece because the pitch is bad) then you’re golden. Know the editor. Know the publication. Know the vibe of the writing. Know what type of column or series your piece could fit into. Just do your research.
What is your greatest personal accomplishment?
When I was 24 years old, I bought a one-way ticket to California, packed my life into two suitcases, and moved to a city where I knew no one. It was the best choice I have ever made.
Where to next?
Work? I hope to stick around Instagram for a while. Life? I love San Francisco, but Oregon or Colorado are next on the list. Travel? I’m heading to Ireland this summer. I hear the craic is mighty.
Follow more of Liv’s adventures on Instagram!
Photos © 2017 Julie Hotz
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