Finding Time to Write While Traveling

I’d like to welcome Katie Milton to the blog today! Give her a warm welcome and I hope you enjoy her tips to finding inspiration for writing, while traveling! Follow her here:

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Summer is a time when many take long road trips, meet up with family at destination reunions, or just get away from it all on a last minute cheap flight. These experiences and travels can provide lots of fodder for writers.

However, trying to pen the Great American Novel while your hands are at ten and two can be difficult. It is also tricky to try find inspiration when Aunt Sandra is monopolizing the family’s time with tales of her latest divorce. Furthermore, there usually isn’t a way to anticipate whether your seat mate on a transatlantic flight is going to be a jabberjaw. Fortunately, with a few tips and tweaks, writers can overcome these “blocks”.

Travel is Busy.

And it occasionally requires our undivided attention. Operating on auto pilot isn’t always an option while engaging in new travel adventures — or when we are running to catch a connecting flight at Gate 22C. Besides, most muses are indignant and uninspired when they have to share the attention. Selfish, aren’t they?

Distractions Abound.

While traveling there are usually so many fun new things to see and do. It is exciting and thrilling! When we spend hard earned money to go and do something new and novel we want to reap as much value from the experience as possible which usually results in some travel itineraries that are over packed. I frequently hear people say things like, I need a vacation from my vacation! Have you planned enough white space into your summer travel itinerary?

Make Writing A Priority.

After reviewing your travel plans and identifying where you can make room for white space, take that time and make writing a priority! The following quick and easy tips will help you find writing value your summer travels.

  • Make a plan.

Before departure, most people have a rough guess of what their travel days will look and feel like. Will it be early mornings on tour buses or late nights at the disco? Will you be traveling in a large group or wandering solo? Different situations will result in different writing parameters. Before you take off, decide when you will write. Will it be early in the morning serenaded by street sweepers outside your window? Will it be late at night in a casual pub with a glass of wine? Could it possibly be in the afternoons when others are taking a siesta? Figure out what your muse will like best and make a plan to write during those times.

  • Set Goals.

Some people favor word limit goals. For example, I will write 500 words per day. Others like time limits — I will write for 30 minutes a day. Before departure, spend some time thinking about what goals will be the best fit for you. Remember to keep your goals realistic and achievable so that it is easier to stick to your plan.

  • Make it Easy using Apps.

At one point or another, we’ve all experienced how inspiration can show up in the most unlikely of places. Usually it is when you don’t have a way to record the event or fully engage the inspiration that has taken up residence in your head for those fleeting moments. There are lots of apps that can be unbelievably helpful in situations like this. Open a note taking app on your smart phone or tablet and scribble down a quick outline. Take a photo and save it to Evernote or Instagram along with a few lines that will help bring you back to that time and place once you are ready to pen The Masterpiece.

  • Keep pen and paper handy.

Not everyone has a smart phone or tablet and others choose to roam where WiFi and phone signals are scarce. In situations like those, allow yourself to jot down notes, ideas, and/or an entire novel the traditional way. A small moleskin notebook that can easily fit into a day pack or purse can prove to be one of the most important traveling companions a writer can pack. Make sure that you are armed with notebooks and writing utensils that will get you excited about jotting down your ideas.

  • Use All 5 Senses.

Unsurprisingly, the world’s best writers have an uncanny ability to make us feel everything in a given situation. While vacationing spend time using your 5 senses and explain in excruciating detail what you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. Practice this as often as you can and you will find that it becomes easier to bring back those vivid memories once you are at home in your usual writing routine.

  • Observe Characters.

Travel can bring us into contact with all sorts of characters and prompts that we may not have in our daily routine. As they say, reality truly is stranger than fiction. The next time you pull up to a truck stop, take some time to flesh out a character story based on someone that catches your eye. Regardless of whether this person will make a cameo in your latest piece doesn’t really matter. Frequently practicing this exercise will help you to easily conjure plot twists and character development when it is most necessary and will also allow you a database to pull ideas from.

How do you make time to write and find inspiration, while traveling? What apps or technology have you discovered that are indispensable to writing on the road?

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14 thoughts on “Finding Time to Write While Traveling

  1. Thanks Devin I am off on a weeks holiday up north and hope to do some writing whilst amusing children and catching up with family. For me all I need is my camera, I take my images the ones that inspire me and interest me. I am a visual person one image can get me started on a good story.

    1. Oh my! I feel exactly the same about photography! I get pictures and look at it again while writing. Sometimes I find myself in that other world I’ve created. Haha. Thanks for visiting and commenting!! 🙂

  2. @kathunsworth:disqus – using your camera and images is a great idea for finding writing inspiration on the road! Wonderful suggestion. Enjoy the rest of your holiday!

      1. @devinberglund:disqus So glad that this post was a good fit. I really appreciate the opportunity to get to know you and your tribe better! Cheers!

  3. Devin, thank you for all your helpful tips! I am a pet sitter who lives in others houses. This has seemed like a huge drawback for finding focus in my writing. You’ve given me a new perspective. One thing I’ve started doing is recording on a digital recorder. Sometimes the most amazing inspiration comes while walking a dog when I don’t have the ability to stop and write the ideas down.

    1. Hello Tammy, I am so glad you enjoyed Katie’s post! That really is a great idea to use a recorder. I do a lot of driving and such…. that may help me with getting ideas out while driving. I’ve actually seen people writing/reading while driving…haha that is a tad scary! Thanks for reading my blog and commenting! I’ll be sure to check out your website/blog as well. Happy writing!

    2. @Tammy, a recorder is a brilliant idea! AND most people have access to recorders on their smart phones and tablets.

      1. Thanks Katie. One of my friends said she uses her smart phone, I just got the recorder before the smart phone. Thank you for all your awesome ideas, it’s really given me a new perspective on utilizing my time spent away from home.

        1. Aren’t smart phones amazing? Mine is definitely my writing base. A good place for all my notes, inspiring photos from places I’ve been, and also a recorder (I need to start using the recorder more). It’s crazy, because a person forgets how fast you lose ideas and such.

          1. I have a list of writing ideas that I store in an Evernote folder. No matter where I am at when inspiration strikes, I am usually able to capture a few sentences about the idea either on my phone or computer. I love it when technology actually delivers on its promise to make our lives easier!

        2. Tammy, my pleasure! So glad to hear that you enjoyed the tips and that it has given you a new perspective on time away! Cheers!

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