I’ve talked about my experience editing while traveling, but what about writing?
Is it possible to write while on the road? Is it possible to keep the motivation up, to reach a writing goal, or to plot out a story, all while moving from place to place every few days?
The answer is yes, but it totally depends on you as a person. On this particular trip, I worked my butt off to edit my book and get it out to my beta readers. That in and of itself was a huge achievement for me, but since then, the past two months have been spent writing this blog, not writing my second book. If I look at it, I’ve written somewhere in the vicinity of 20,000 words. Holy heck! Twenty thousand words of non-fiction. In many ways a blog might look insignificant, but the word count doesn’t lie.
I’ve kept to an editorial schedule, not daring to miss a post, even if inspiration was somewhat lacking. I’ve “plotted” out the format for a super-secret-super-exciting non-fiction project and even dreamed up the marketing campaign that will go along with it.
Is it the fiction writing that I’d planned for? No, but that’s totally okay. I’ve written major word count goals while traveling before, including thirty thousand words for NaNoWriMo. It’s hard as hell to stick to a writing schedule while traveling, especially if you have NaNo dreams, but it can be done. Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction and plan to write while traveling, here is my advice:
1. Stick to a Schedule
Writing every day is ideal for some people, not for others. If you’re a sprinting writer, like me, make sure you carve out writing time in big chunks and dedicate yourself to the task. If you’re publishing or sharing material, for instance with a blog or a critique group, you will have even more motivation to stick to a schedule. Schedule it around your activities, but make sure you know you’ll have energy. For me, evenings were ideal as the sun went down here at six, and I could get in a couple of hours of writing after dinner.
2. Find Your Perfect Place
I am currently traveling with my husband, and while he’s damn cute, he tends to be distracting. He’ll want to show me something on YouTube or tell me about the article he’s reading, but I just decide to plug in headphones or to go out to a coffee shop on my own for private writing time. Whatever level of distraction you can take (heck, even a gorgeous Thai sunset can be distracting), find the perfect writing space that allows you to focus.
3. Use Your Surroundings
How many places have we all visited that we never write about? Probably most of them, but one day you might just want to set a story in a destination you visited, and you’ll wish you’d taken better notes. Grab a notebook for your journeys and note down the little things, the details you’d be likely to forget. What does it smell like? How does the sand feel under your feet? Watch the way locals interact with each other. Listen to the local dialects. Try to pick up on the small details that make a place unique. I recently read The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb and she did such a great job of providing rich, luscious details that you felt you were there in the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam.
4. Don’t Forget to Travel!
Whether you’re writing for work or for pleasure (or both!), make sure you don’t forget to suck every last drop out of your travels. Everyone needs their chill out days, but travel is not about spending your days in front of your laptop, unless of course you’re a travel blogger. Get out from behind the screen once you’ve reached your targets and see the sights! Inspiration often strikes. Writing while traveling is as much about opening your ears as it is about putting your fingers to the keyboard.
What about you, fellow writers? Have you ever tried to reach a writing goal while on vacation? How did it work out? What would you do differently?