Thursday, August 26, 2010

Writing While Traveling

George Spencer Watson--1869-1934--Four loves I found - a woman, a child, a horse, a hound I was basically out traveling for almost two weeks. But—I still had writing to do.

Actually, while I was gone, I had a call from my agent. I had revision requests on a project I’m working on and she suggested I knock them out in two weeks. That meant that half of that time I would be on the road while working on the edits.

I’ve always been able to work while I’m gone—but I’m not nearly as productive when I’m traveling as when I’m home.

So this is what I did—and I thought it might help y’all out if you’re on a deadline for a manuscript (either self-imposed or editor-imposed) or are needing to work on edits like I was.

First of all I figured out what I needed to work on. With a manuscript, this could mean that you tell yourself you want to write one particular chapter or one particular scene (if you’re jumping around as you write. So you could choose to write the book’s ending, etc.) With my edits, I printed out the editor’s revision requests so I could have them handy and think about what they wanted done.

Next I spent my road time (this could be time driving on a highway, or flying on a plane, or riding on a train) thinking about the action in a particular scene, or a particular character that I needed to develop in a different way, etc. Here in the States, we have miles and miles of really, really boring highway driving where the scenery rarely changes. The kids were both watching movies in the car with their headphones, and it gave me an amazing expanse of time (about 7 hours) to just think.

During the time I spent brainstorming the requested plot changes and character tweaks, I found that I really started getting more of a handle on my characters and getting better acquainted with them.

If you’re driving, like I was, then writing on paper isn’t really the best thing to do. :) I downloaded a voice recording feature onto my phone (most phones have a voice recorder, I think…or you could just leave a really LONG message on your home answering machine!) and whenever I got ideas, I spoke them into the voice recorder. The kids were totally wrapped up in their movie and oblivious (which was good, since I’d gotten a revision request to change my killer and I was mulling over the murder and red herrings and clues!)

If you’re riding on a plane or train, paper or your computer would work really well to jot down the ideas you have. I always think I’m going to remember my brainstorming sessions—but I never do.

When I got to our destination, I put everything aside until it was time for me to turn in (since I was there to visit family.) So there may not be the perfect time to just excuse yourself and write, but you can always turn in 20-30 minutes before you’re totally exhausted and get some writing done then.

But to be productive during such a short time, it really does help to plan ahead and know what you’re going to write for that evening.

Although being away from home does sometimes tire me out, I found that it was also really inspiring being in a different place with different people keeping different hours doing different things. Maybe shaking myself out of my usual routine was a good way to really stir up my imagination…and deadlines have a way of doing that, too!

Have you written while on the road this summer? Have any tips?