Writing on the Road—Risking Fireworks!

As this posts, I am returning home from 3 weeks on the road. It’s been a lovely trip, visiting my family who lives abroad, but that’s a big chunk of time out of the writing schedule.

Luckily, writers have flexible schedules and can work most anywhere, most any time, as long as the hours get logged. Publishers have their own schedule, which doesn’t always coincide with a writer’s schedule. I am contracted to deliver my next book soon, and if I don’t deliver the book, I risk fireworks with my publisher. On the other hand, if I spend too much time locking myself away from the family to write, I risk fireworks with them. What’s a writer to do??

Here’s what I’ve found that works for me while on the road:

1. Write every day. This is key for me. It doesn’t matter how little I write. It can be only a paragraph. But if I miss a day without any thought toward my WIP, then I break my continuity. This either gets me stuck or I end up going backwards, rather than forwards.
2. Stealing time. I usually rise an hour or so before the rest of the family, and that’s when I steal my time to write, so as not to interfere with any family activities. If jet lag keeps me awake in the middle of the night, I write then, too.
3. Overstimulation. In a new setting, with so much to see and do, it’s super easy to get distracted from the WIP. I may not remember what I’m supposed to write next, so I give myself permission to write any scene I want. Forget about transitions, just write it now and piece it into the draft later.
4. Ignore Critical Voice. Sure, the writing is bad. Really bad. But I just keep writing it anyway. I can throw it away later, but chances are, once I’m farther into the story, I’ll discover that what I thought was bad isn’t so bad after all.
5. Chill. If all else fails, I don’t beat myself up. I give in, and maybe just write in my journal, some sensory stuff that I can use later in some other project. Or I will do some plotting work, or studying by reading a good book, or research, or just plain old think time.

When a writer goes on the road, it’s not always vacation time. It’s a big challenge to keep on going. How do you handle traveling and writing? I’d love to learn some more tips!

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7 thoughts on “Writing on the Road—Risking Fireworks!”

  1. Sue, this was a big challenge for me when I went on a vacation in January. The feeling is that since you’re away from home, it should be a vacation, right? I found I couldn’t write–not because I didn’t have time, but because the environment didn’t pull out my creativity. I gave myself the break and then had to be twice as productive when I returned home. Good for you for sticking to your rules!

  2. Ah, balancing traveling and writing. I usually tote my laptop on family vacations and the family just understands – I need at least an hour a day so I can keep some forward progress. Good luck!

  3. I run into this every month when I have to travel for work. I stay with friends and don’t have the opportunity to pull away for a little creative time. If I’m truly too beat before bed to pull my laptop out for a few quick paragraphs, then I either give myself permission to kick back, or pull out the notebook that corresponds to each book and start jotting ideas for scenes that I can write later. I agree, it’s important to keep the muse fed to keep creative continuity.

  4. Home again! And I didn’t really stick to my “rules” so well on this trip–there were too many distractions. I defaulted to number 5 more days than I would’ve liked, but now at least the muse is fed well enough (love that!) to get back to work. Thanks for the comments! 🙂

  5. What a great line, “keeping the muse fed.” Yes, sometimes all I can give her his a snack of a few ideas or paragraphs, but it’s enough to keep her happy.

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