Spring is officially here, which means something even better is coming: summertime. If you're a writer, for fun or professionally, who is already planning your getaways, you better check out these tips for writing more effectively while you travel, because it's a lot harder than Jack Kerouac makes it seem.
Before I became a freelance writer, I used to work a nine-to-five job, but one of the many reasons I left said corporate gig was to have the the freedom to make my own schedule and have more control over my day-to-day-life. It was terrifying at first, figuring out exactly how I would make enough money to pay the bills, how I would secure health insurance, and if I was even any good at this kind of work. Three years later, and I can confidently say I made the right decision and I love both my life and my career, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
One of the best parts about being a freelance writer is the ability to travel and work at the same time. I love packing my bag and my top and working from the road, but it isn't always as easy at is seems. This upcoming summer, I have more days out of state then I do in my own bed, which got me thinking: what are the best strategies for writing while traveling? Luckily, I have enough experience doing it to come up with a few.
Whether you're a freelancing professional who is working from the road, an aspiring novelist trying to finish their book on vacation, or someone writing just for fun, here are nine tips that will help you write for efficiently while you travel. Trust me when I say, you can have fun and reach your word count, too.
1. Get organized before you leave.
Before you can write effectively from the road (or airplane, bus, train — whatever your mode of transportation may be) you have to get organized at home. That means making a checklist of everything you'll need while traveling and writing, including your laptop and charger, organizing your calendar of due dates so you aren't late turning anything in, and backing up all of your documents at home before hitting the road. If you start your vacation off in an organized fashion, you can write in that fashion, too.
2. Bring all the right tools, technological and otherwise.
Part of organizing before you leave for your trip is getting together all the writing supplies you'll need on the road: a notebook, writing tools, a laptop, charger, backup battery, flash drive, external hard drive, dictionary, and whatever else you use when writing. It helps if you make a list before packing, that way you can get all of your supplies straight in your head before trying to fit them in your bag.
3. Back everything up as you go.
Writing while traveling can be tricky because you never know how reliable the internet service will be, whether or not you'll be able to charge your laptop — there are so many variables that can threaten your productivity. To help get ahead of any problems you may face, be sure to constantly back up your writing. Use a flash drive, external hard drive, or cloud to keep your progress protected, because nothing ruins a trip faster than finding out the last 30 pages of your manuscript didn't save.
4. Plan for internet interruptions.
Whenever you write, wherever you write, you're probably faced with distractions from every angle, but when you're on vacation, those distractions can be even harder to resist. Instead of fighting against them, work with them. Schedule more time than you normally would to finish a project, or let yourself take your notebook to the pool for some brainstorming. The whole point of traveling is to relax and have fun, after all, but you can do that and get writing done at the same time. That is, if you plan ahead.
5. Stick to a regular schedule.
Speaking of planning ahead, you can help your writing efficiency on vacation by sticking to a schedule you make for yourself before you leave. If you know that you'll want to hit the beach for prime sunbathing hours, schedule a solid block of uninterrupted work first thing in the morning. If you're a night owl prone to partying in whatever new city you go to, make sure to schedule afternoon writing sessions that don't include cocktails. As long as you stick to a routine, you can find plenty of time to have fun, relax, sleep, and write, no matter where you are.
6. Establish a go-to writing space.
Are you a fan of coffee shops, or do you prefer libraries and book stores? Whatever your favorite place to write outside of the house is in your hometown, find the same kind of location wherever you are on the road and make it your go-to writing place. The familiarity will help you feel more comfortable writing while traveling, even if you're a million miles from home.
7. Always have a notebook and pen with you.
This one should be a rule for all writers, but especially those who are traveling. Whether you're waiting at the bus station and meet someone who inspires a story, riding on a plane when a stroke of genius hits you, or sitting in a lawn chair on the beach when inspiration strikes, you want to make sure you have something to record it on. Since you're traveling, you might not always have your phone or computer, but it is easy enough to keep a small notebook for ideas with you at all time. You'd be surprised how much more creative you can be when you're away from your desk at home.
8. Make time to write for fun.
Whether you are reporting from the road or working on a just-for-you book project, take time out of your regular writing while traveling and make time to work on something just for fun. It's a great way to give your mind a break from the normal routine while still brushing up on your writing skills.
9. Let your travels inspire you.
Traveling, whether it is for work, for a family vacation, or for fun, can be an incredibly inspiring experience. While you work from the road, don't forget to let the people you meet, the places you see, and the experiences you have shape your work.
You never know how a trip can change your writing, so get out there and see where it will take you next.