Four writing tips for the traveling writer

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation,
Creative Commons

Travel and writing. For me these two things go together like peanut better and jelly. 


No, this is not a post that could be on Alexis Grant’s blog. She is truly a traveling writer. I just play one on television.


Recently, I found myself traveling to Washington D.C. to moderate a panel on hyper local news sites. I know, not very writerly but there was a writing lesson during my travels that I think can help writers: learning to travel like a smart writer. 

Listen, we all know there is no off switch to this writing gig even if you’re on vacay. Walter Mosley, who wrote Devil In A Blue Dress, said he writes every day even while on vacation. Recently, Robert Olen Butler went on his honeymoon and wrote while on it. There. Is. No. Off. Switch. It really is a blessing and a curse. 

Because there is no off switch, you need to be prepared while traveling to get some work done. 

So here are some tips that help me and I hope will help you be writerly while waiting for your flight.

1.) Get the right equipment

You would think this would be a no brainer, but it isn’t. The first thought, at least for me, was always to take the laptop and hunker down in a corner near an electric outlet and go at it. But let me offer this. 

Don’t take the laptop.

Instead, take your net book or your tablet. Unless you need your laptop for the event you’re about to attend, you can do what you need with something smaller. This is an advantage because you can stuff a net book or tablet in a purse or carry on. Also, a tablet doesn’t have to be taken out during the TSA check. One less thing to deal with. Net books? Same thing. In fact, according to the TSA blog (yes, they have one) anything smaller than a laptop can be left in the bag.

Another thing about tablets are the apps that help you do what you do. There are several blogging apps that will list the location where the post was written. Not that is a necessary thing but it is kinda cool for the reader to know that the post was written on the road. Much like this one. 

2.) Plan your connection

By connection, I don’t mean the connection to your next flight. I’m talking about Internet connection. It’s not that you’ll be playing on the interwebs or watching movies but, it’s  a way to save your masterpiece while in transit. Flash drives are awesome–lots of space in a tiny thing. But how easy is it to lose one especially if you’re traveling? Exactly. 

That’s why I like cloud services like Evernote (which this post was written in), Google docs, or Skydrive. If you are using an app on your tablet, your blogging app should have a way to save things locally and/or a draft on your blog’s server. I use BlogPress, which allows you to publish to Blogger and WordPress sites. Blogger and WordPress have their own apps as well. 


3.) Technology 1.0

I don’t know about you but I still believe in paper and pen. Why? It’s easier to plan and write short notes to yourself. I have a notebook in which I plan my blog posts.  I also plan out a characters paper and pen as well. I just can’t duplicate that on the screen. 

Also, if you’re using a tablet (I’m a iPad person) you can’t use that keyboard in the air since most use Bluetooth technology to connect. So, you are left with using the keyboard screen. If that’s not your favorite thing to do, paper and pen work without a problem. 


4.) Headphones. Headphones. Headphones. 

It can get loud in those lounges while you’re waiting for the flight. That makes it hard to concentrate. This is the solution: headphones or earbuds. 

Listen to your iPod or iTunes while you write. If you can’t write while there’s music in your ears, have you tried just sounds? A waterfall, a train, waves–all these can easily help you focus on your prose while people are trying to figure out if their delayed flight is a canceled one.  Just make sure you don’t miss any announcements for your own flight. 

Still don’t like the noise? How about noise canceling headphones? These will also help you catch some quick zzz on the plane 

Of course, all these great ideas came to me while I was already on the road. And, as you can tell by the location tag on the bottom, I thought enough to start this post while traveling. 

How’s that for practicing what you preach? What other tips do you use to travel and write?

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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