Blog Highlights: Writing on the Road

For the grand opening of this blog, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite blog posts and moments from over the years throughout the month of June.


Week One: Writing Tips and Advice





First Posted July 25, 2011

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As mentioned in my last post, Jesse and I are in Minnesota right now. It took two solid days of constant driving followed by one meandering “stop and see the antique stores historical sites” day to get here.

Although I love road trips, I was hesitant at first because my writing responsibilities are piling up fast and I was worried about falling behind on Book 2: Scarlet (among other things). But in the end I decided to go into this road trip fully prepared to be productive even on the road, and guess what! I managed to get more done during those two days of driving than I usually get sitting around at home.

A lot of that is due to a lack of distractions. No chores, no TV, even no twitter or facebook during those stretches when the phone isn’t getting reception.

But even more than that, most of my productivity came down to being prepared to use the time writing.

Traveling in the future? Here are some tips for writing on the road that worked for me.

Have the Right Tools
My laptop battery only lasts a couple hours, so prior to hitting the road Jesse bought us a car charger for the laptop (it also charges phones and iPods, how handy!) Without it, I would have been at a huge loss!

I’m also fond of the AlphaNEO, a portable keyboard/computer that may not be aesthetically pleasing, but is lightweight, practical, and has a crazy long battery life.

And we bought ourselves iPhones a couple weekends ago so I could keep up on social networking and emails.

Last but not least, traveling with an eReader (I have a Nook) will keep you from having to pack half a dozen books around with you. So far I only have fiction on mine, but you could also stow reference materials and writing guides.

When You Have a Chauffeur . . .
I’m lucky—Jesse actually enjoys driving! During the first day of our trip, I only had about four hours behind the wheel, while Jesse had over ten. Lots of writing time for me!

Just like with regular writing days, I started each morning by choosing my daily tasks. I tried to include a nice mix of different to-do items so that A) I wouldn’t get burned out halfway through the trip, and B) I could break up more brain-draining tasks (like novel revisions) with shorter, easier ones (like replying to tweets and writing blog posts).

My completed tasks lists looked something like:

– revise 2 chapters of Scarlet
– draft 2 blog posts
– draft 1 book review
– respond to tweets
– brainstorm potential short story ideas

– revise 3 chapters of Scarlet
– review website quotes and decide who to go with
– start outlining short story

When It’s Your Turn to Drive . . .
It’s much trickier trying to be productive when you’re driving. Mostly I’ve resorted to using that time to relax my analytical brain and let my mind wander. Daydreaming, brainstorming, whatever you want to call it… it’s kind of important, and something about long drives can be very conducive for it.

For this road trip, I did try to keep my thoughts at least a little focused by thinking about the upcoming chapters I’ll be revising in Scarlet and brainstorming ideas for a potential Lunar Chronicles-based short story.

If you’re comfortable with it, you can also try a voice recorder to “write” while you drive. I’ve never tried this myself, but talk about multi-tasking!

Then of course, there are always audiobooks. Long stretches of driving time can be quite effectively used to cut down on your to-read list if you have audiobooks handy.

Take Breaks
Writing all day at a desk is hard on the body. Writing all day in a car is even worse! Take breaks whenever possible. Stand up, stretch, maybe jog around the parking lot to get your heartbeat up. It will not only help relieve all that tension that’s inevitably building up in your neck and shoulders, but it will also help energize you to tackle the next task on your list.

I hope these tips will help the next time you find yourself writing on the road!

What tactics have you used to get writing done while traveling?