I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately. A lot of traveling. Some work-related, some vacation, but traveling nonetheless. Every time, I promised myself I’d get some writing done while I was gone. So how much did I do?
Okay, so I got a bunch of notes written, and did some outlining, but actual writing? Yeah. Not so much.
Let’s face it: traveling is exhausting. It’s also time-consuming. Carving out the time and concentration to write is far easier said than done. But you know, I totally could have done it, and looking back, I can see how I could have accomplished more than I did. Not necessarily meeting my daily word quota, but at least getting a little bit of work done.
Most of that is just me putting more pressure on myself than I need to, but sometimes it’s legitimately necessary to work while traveling. Maybe you’re on a deadline. Maybe you just need to write at least once a day to keep yourself sane. Whatever the reason, your plane tickets are not getting you off the hook, and while you’re away from home, you’re going to be writing. So, having pondered my own failure to accomplish anything while traveling, I’m going to share the resulting tips with you:
1. Guard Thy Time. If you want to write for a certain amount of time every day, pick a time slot and guard it fiercely. For example, make 7-8:00 am your writing time. Don’t schedule anything else. Don’t make yourself available until after 8.
2. Be Realistic. Look, if you’re traveling, chances are, you’re busy. Whether it’s vacation, family, or business, there’s bound to be something going on. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t knock out 2,500 words in a day while you’re visiting Aunt Sally or edit that chapter in between exploring some town in a country I can’t pronounce. Cut yourself some slack. At the same time…
3. …Discipline Still Applies. Like never before, you will be given every reason and every opportunity not to write. Know when to say “Okay, I really need to sit down and do this before I do anything else.”
4. Planes, Trains, & Automobiles Are Your Friends. Most of us have, at one time or another, taken a trip that’s more than just a brief car ride. I don’t even want to think about how many hours I’ve spent in planes, not to mention airports. Freaking airports, man. Could any place be more Purgatorial? Well, guess what: that’s the perfect opportunity to write. Once you’re on the plane or the train, keep thy pen moving and write like the wind! You have hours of cramped boredom, so you might as well use it. (I’m prone to motion sickness, but find that a steady supply of ginger ale courtesy of the flight attendants is enough to keep me from feeling ill.)
Above all, I think the most important tip I can offer you is Don’t Miss Out. Discipline, realistic goals, and some semblance of a schedule are important, but don’t lose sight of one other thing: there’s a reason you’re traveling to wherever you are. While it’s certainly important to get the work done, writing is about more than just recording and interpreting life. It's also about living life.
So, whatever you do, whichever of my tips you take and whichever you leave, I hope you'll keep this one in mind above all:
Don’t let the last half of chapter 7 be the reason you miss a once in a lifetime experience.