Writing During Summer Travels

Summer is just around the corner. And for many writers, that means traveling to see family and taking vacations while trying to meet deadlines.

Consistent writing may be a necessity during the summer. Can writing and traveling co-exist? Yes, quite happily, but only if you think and plan ahead.

Paved with Good Intentions

We may have the best intentions of writing on trips, but usually we return home with little or nothing accomplished. Since most writers don’t have the luxury of paid vacations—and deadlines approach regardless of summer holiday travel—we need practical ways to squeeze in writing while we journey to see family and friends. It can be done, and without offending anyone or missing out on the festivities. If you plan to hit the road or airways this summer, give these ideas a try.

First, you have to find the time to write. When you first peruse your travel schedule, you may feel convinced that there simply won’t be any time available for your writing. You may have activities planned (or planned for you) that don’t seem to show any gaps of free time. If so, look again.

What about when you check into your motel? Avoid turning on the TV for “company” or to check the local news and weather. Instead, unpack your writing supplies, clean the fly­ers and TV program listings off the desk, and set up an instant office. If you’re staying at someone’s house, make up your mind to write while others watch TV or snooze after a big family dinner.

You can easily find time to write on planes. Just skip watching the movie, ignore the head phones, and leave the in-flight magazines unread. Instead, write longhand or on a laptop on your drop-down table. You can also find time to write on buses and in taxis during long shuttle trips to and from airports. Time spent waiting in airports provides other opportunities to work, whether “people-watching” and jotting notes for your character files or writing longhand while perched on your pile of luggage.

Second, you need places to write. Workplaces for the traveling writer are even easier to find. Depending on the location of your trip, you may find yourself writing on a bench in the mall or at a backyard picnic table at a relative’s home. If your group is staying in a motel, you can write at a table by the pool or sneak down to the lobby and find a comfortable chair behind a potted plant for half an hour. You can write in public libraries. While others in your party shop at the mall, you can write in bookstores that provide chairs and tables. If you’ve planned a day at the beach, try writing while you tan instead of reading or listening to music.

Other places to write on the road include diners, lunch counters, delis, and coffee shops. And don’t forget your bed! Pile up pillows behind your back and grab your notebook or laptop. You can write first thing in the morning if you’re a guest in someone’s home—just let them think you’re sleeping late. Or write in bed before you go to sleep. At first it might not seem like much, but a half hour or full hour of writing can produce more work than we think.

Writing When Traveling: Think Ahead

If your holiday schedule will include traveling, yet you need or want to keep writing while on the road, do some pre-planning before leaving home. Adjust your mind-set ahead of time as well.

Be alert to unexpected changes in your travel plans and grab some impromptu writing sessions. Keep your writing tools handy in order to take advantage of these opportunities to write during your day. Be deter­mined to write in whatever chunks of time you find. If you want to travel, but you also need to work, this is one way to have your cake and eat it too!

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