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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Writing while on the road

Since my first book came out in September, I've spent a lot of time on the road for promotional trips or for my duties as a regional director on RWA's board of directors. Trips can wreck havoc on our writing schedules if we let them, but it's also possible to stay productive while on the road.

If you're driving, use the driving time to brainstorm what comes next in the book you're currently writing or to develop new story ideas.

If you're traveling by plane, bus or train, bring your laptop and/or notebook and pen. Write new scenes while you're waiting for your mode of conveyance to arrive or while you're in transit. Last week, I took the train from Virginia to New York, then from New York back to Washington, D.C. During the Virginia to NYC stretch, I caught up on reading my Romance Writers' Report, our professional journal. From NYC to D.C., I (along with probably 90% of the rest of the train car I was in) plugged in my laptop and worked for three hours. You could tell it was a popular route for professionals since all the seats had power outlets next to them. Everyone was making the most of that three hours of travel time so it wasn't wasted.

I also have WiFi on my laptop so that I can keep up with e-mail while I'm away. I read and delete at every opportunity while I'm traveling so that I'm not overwhelmed with e-mail when I get back home. This can even be accomplished in small time chunks when you return to your hotel room after a day full of meetings.

Even if you don't have a laptop or other keep-in-touch gadgets, the ol' pen and paper fallback is all you need to write up scenes, brainstorm title ideas, capture story concepts you might otherwise forget. I had an out-of-the-blue story idea while in my hotel a couple of night's ago, so the Marriott notepad in the room came in handy. It was exciting enough to make me go online and request a research book from my local library so that it'll be there waiting for me when I arrive home. Often, the sites to which you travel trigger new ideas you might not have thought about without the trip.

So, days spent traveling don't have to be lost days as far as story production goes. You just have to commit to maintaining your a semblance of your normal writing schedule and not writing off those days.

If you're traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, stay safe. And stay productive! :)


At 10:23 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

I could picture a train car full of people typing on their laptops. Great suggestions for writers who travel! I have one more suggestion. If you're traveling in a car with other writers, use some of the time in the car to brainstorm.

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Dianna Love said...

Trish -
I never realized the trains had power in the seats. Some airline flights I've been on have available power, too. I always keep my Alphasmart with me on flights where I know I'll run out of laptop power.

I would love for you to do a post maybe in 2009 on the different train trips you've taken in the last five years since I've wondered a couple times about taking a train when I had more time just to get out of the airports (I spend two weeks a month traveling on average). Sort of a "tips for train travel" with Q&A.

Mo - Good suggestion. I have a friend who we plan brainstorming time into any trip together.

Another tip for writers that might be somewhat of a motivator to help with staying on a schedule is to plan editing/polishing time for traveling. When I can, I try to get as much fresh writing done as possible to use time on the road for editing as sort of a mental break from crunching hard on new scenes.

At 2:24 PM, Blogger Christine said...

Dear Wet Noodle Contributors--thank you so much for all your encouragement and advice during the past few weeks. I've enjoyed peeking in and reading this blog very much.

Today I mailed my Golden Heart Entry away. And I am so glad it is out of my hair. Now, thanks to you, I have some great ways to write through the holiday season and vamp up the MS.

I wish you all a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

At 2:52 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Christine, thanks for checking in with the Noodlers and LOTS OF LUCK on your GH entry! I hope you final!

Trish, thanks for the great tips. I am flying to New Jersey on Thursday and I was going to stop writing for five days but you're right...there are so many other things I can do, like brainstorm or jot down cool scene ideas. Thanks!

At 4:00 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

I agree completely, Trish. I worked on contest entries and my galley for APHRODITE'S BREW, print version, during the exhaustingly long layovers on our Mediterranean trip, but not much on the airplanes. One of the reasons was the awful amounts of time spent on the tarmac, both landing and taking off, when using a laptop is not allowed. But the six hours in JFK (only three of which were actually sitting down) meant I got a lot done and met my deadlines. It's comforting to have something constructive to do.

At 5:24 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

I'm finally back from my latest trip, including driving through a snowstorm in Virginia today. Not fun.

Mo, I've done that group brainstorming in the car before with other writers. Amazing what comes out of it.

Dianna, not all trains do, but those regional trains between D.C. and NYC cater to business travelers, so they try to make it like a rolling office. :)

At 5:26 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Dianna, I've also done the editing thing on trips to give my brain a writing break while still getting things done.

Christine, congrats on getting your GH entry in! And good luck in the contest.

Theresa, hope you have a good trip.

Delle, I've found that having work to do makes the trips go faster too.

At 9:57 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Yes, Congrats, Christine! You did it!!! Good for you.

I like the idea of revising on trips. I can do that easier than create new stuff.


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