Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Rediscover Your Love of Writing: How to Write While Traveling

Hello writers!

I'm writing to you right now from the desk in the fancy hotel where the conference on Transformational Coaching that starts  tomorrow is being held.  Thinking about you all, and how you're doing on the writing challenge.  I've been surprised at how much harder it is than I had guessed, to fulfill my daily writer's missions, and how much catching up I have to do.  Et tu, fair friend?  How's it going out there?  You know I totally dig getting love letters (of all types, even the frustrated ones about how it's not going well at all), so let me know.

Although it might seem like this trip would set me back even more, the truth is, I love writing while traveling.  It's one of the times that I find I'm most productive, and really able to focus well.  I know, possibly not the first conclusion you'd jump to, all things considering. But for me, stepping out of my life and into a different flow really gets that monkey mind of mine to quiet down and open up to my intuition and imagination in a very potent way.

As I know that quite a few of us will be traveling at some time during the month, and maybe still in the process of making travel plans, I thought I'd pass on my best hints about how to write while traveling:  

Redraft your Writer's Mission to be more seaworthy.
Your trip might be the perfect time to work on your novel, if its about family and you'll be going home for the holidays.  But if you're at a conference, like I am, you might find yourself overflowing with ideas about blog posts and new career thoroughfares.  If you're abroad spending time on a sunny beach with a beloved, perhaps working on a series of short stories about unexpected romance in a tropical locales will feel perfect, or a letter to a future child about how you and your honey met.  

Bring the right equipment for the job.
For me, this is definitely essential.  I need the write stuff.   For example, for this trip, I brought a notebook and favorite pen for the beginning of the plane ride when you aren't allowed to use electronic devices, and any other time when handwriting is the most perfect way for me to express myself, which is usually the case for me when I'm using my writing for inner soul-searching and self-discovery.  I also brought an iPad with an itty bitty keyboard that fits neatly into my bag, so I can have it at the ready each and every moment that I might want to take notes or write (also, the iPad has a crazy long battery life).  However, the iPad, with it's limited memory, would have been a terrible choice if I were trying to do a video and photojournalism piece about street activism.   You can never be truly ready for every possible scenario while traveling, but it still makes sense to spend some time thinking about what you're average day might include, how much you want to carry around with you, and what you'll feel safe brining along.

Think about your book, when you book.  
What's the most important thing to you about your accommodations for you to thrive as a writer while traveling?  Do you need quiet and privacy?  A reliable internet connection 24 hours a day?  To be immersed in beauty?  Obviously, there are a lot of factors to consider when you're working out where to stay, but how your surroundings will affect your work should at least be in the mix.   When in the throws of compromise with other interested parties (such as co-travelers and family that hasn't seen you in three years) or other compromising factors like the price, pick the number one thing on your list that will empower you to have a fulfilling experience as a writer on your journeys and refuse to budge on that one.  For me, it's usually cleanliness.  If I'm in a disorganized or dirty space, I can't get a single word down.

Put your writing in your itinerary.
I find that scheduling devoted 2-3 hour chunks works really well for me.  Less, and I spend the whole time getting caught up on email and reading facebook; more, and I end up feeling like I'm missing out or my travel companions start getting ornery with me (more on that in a bit).  Sometimes, if I'm on a role during my 2-hour block with nothing scheduled afterwards, I'll take a little break and do another 1-2 hours.  If that's not a good option, I'll make an effort to finish up before bed.  There are also generally many "dead" times while traveling that are great for writing: waiting at the airport for your flight, on the plane itself, in the morning while you're waiting for people who's sleep schedules more perfectly fit the local time zone, etc.

Warn your traveling companions, hosts, and other pertinent parties that you will be spending some of the trip writing.
I can't say enough about how important this is -- and the sooner, the better.  Talk to your girlfriend, children, grandfather, the person hosting you from, and strategize together on ways you can make it work for you.  Most likely, these wonderful people really want to support your writing life, but they need to know how, and they also need for you not to be locked away in your guest room for days at a time.  Figure out what times and activities are important to do together, and what are the things that these other folks would be happy doing without you.  If you're lucky, your travel companion is also interested in spending quality time in relative peace and quiet, for work, rest, reading, or even writing.  

 When I go visit my stepchildren in Indiana, which is about every two or three months, my husband and I make a plan to spend time working during the day while the kids at school.  That works for us.  On the other hand, I've learned that trying to write while everyone is in the living room watching TV does not.  My in-laws can't seem to help themselves -- they absolutely must talk to me about what I'm doing, if I'd rather we were watching something other than Fox News (um, yes), and they definitely notice and seem to feel slighted if I hide in my room instead.  So that doesn't work.  Check.    

Consider how you can utilize the marvels of technology.
One quick example: my phone has Dragon Dictation on it, which allows me to "write" while standing in line to buy a train ticket or tamale, take notes in a jiffy, and draft e-mails while driving.  It's my secret weapon.  What's yours?  It might take a little thinking outside the box, but really, there are lots of technological assets just waiting to help further your writing endeavors if you explore a little.

Find the best cafes on your route and frequent them.
Cafes are not just places for delicious frothy beverages and internet access -- they are also great for people-watching, getting a sense of the daily life of the people who live where you are visiting (whether or not you think you might already know all about it... yes, maybe you are going home for the holidays, but how long has it been since you were last there?  Both you and them may have changed considerably).  I love checking out the bulletin boards wherever I go just to take the pulse of the area and get a sense of what's going on.  I grab a news weekly for the same reason.

Alright, that's it from me for now.  Do you have ideas that I didn't mention here?   Leave a comment on the Wild Serenity Page and share!

Yours always,

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