This is a guest post by Cal Bailey. Cal runs MountainLeon.com – a travel blog he started after two years of backpacking around the world. If you want to learn more about life on the road or his blogging, you can read his latest post here.
I had hosted a guest post about travel writing in the past, as the subject fascinates me. To get paid to travel–that’s the dream for many writers, right? If only it were that easy…
How to Write Effectively While You Are Traveling
One of the best perks of writing is that you can pretty much do it anywhere. All you need is your laptop or pen and paper plus your creativity, and you can write wherever you are.
Well, not exactly. Writing, like all skills, demands discipline. Effective writing is more than just scribbling a few words to produce good quality output.
Traveling is an excellent way to squeeze out those creative juices and get away from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine, which may hinder creativity. But traveling also presents you with different challenges. From hectic schedules to unfamiliar environments and travel fatigue, a lot of things can prevent you from completing your writing tasks for each day.
So how can you still write effectively while you are traveling? Here’s what I do:
Plan, plan, plan
Traveling will already throw a monkey wrench in your carefully constructed daily routine—you know, the one that you’re used to when writing at home? I remedy this by carefully constructing an organized plan for my trip.
This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- A checklist for all my writing essentials. I’ve been on more than a few trips, so I already have a good grasp of what I need when I’m writing away from home. If this is your first time, you can make a checklist of things that you normally use when you’re writing (that actually help you write). As you do this more often, you’ll be able to trim or expand your list according to your habits and preferences.
Some items on my checklist: laptop, charger, portable WiFi, my coffee tumbler, notebook, and my favorite pen.
- My travel itinerary. Suffice it to say that traveling can’t be planned down to the last minute, as unexpected surprises can happen. But having a general itinerary will help you identify blocks of time where you can sit down and write, like a long layover or train ride. As much as possible, try to stick to your schedule. But don’t be discouraged if an unforeseen circumstance unravels your plans—it happens. What’s important is that you do have a plan, and it’ll allow you to be more intentional about making time to write.
Being organized will reduce some of the stress you may experience when you travel, freeing your mind to think creatively instead of doing damage control. Traveling brings so much disruptions and distractions, two big enemies of writing effectively. Planning ahead will at least lessen these, giving you more time to write.
Back up your files, then back up your backup
You won’t always have access to the cloud when you’re on the go, so make sure you have an offline backup of all files you need. What I do is I save important files on my laptop, a flash drive or external hard drive, and in the cloud. This way, I’m prepared for emergencies, like if my laptop dies or (heaven forbid) gets stolen. I can use the files on the flash drive or cloud and work in an internet café.
Come up with a “travel writing routine”
You won’t be able to stick to your normal writing routine when you’re away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a routine at all. When you’re coming up with your itinerary, you can intentionally insert chunks of free time you can use to just write.
I find that doing a short morning routine where I just sit down and write stuff wherever I am is helpful. I like to measure this by time, rather than by output, since time is limited when you’re traveling.
I schedule an hour every morning (or afternoon, really) to sit and write whatever I like. It can be the narrative of my dream the previous night, a journal entry about my trip so far, or a few pages or paragraphs of my work in progress. Whenever I do this, I’m not really concerned about reaching a certain word count, just that I produce something in my allotted “writing hour.”
I’ve sometimes experienced being in the zone during this hour that I didn’t stop on schedule, but continued until the words ran out. I missed some traveling activities because of that, but I was happy nonetheless.
Always bring your pen and notebook
Few things unleash your creativity than a change of surroundings. Sometimes, you’ll see something interesting while you’re on the train. Jot those down in your notebook or journal. Record what you feel, smell, see, and hear. Your travels can bring loads of creative opportunities that you wouldn’t experience at home, so open your mind and let them inspire you.
Writing effectively while traveling may be tricky, but with these tips, you can make the most out of your trip. Enjoy your travels!