Monday, September 24, 2007

Travel Writing

Most successful writers, it has been said, have a system. We schedule writing into our week -- an hour a day; 1000 words a day plus research on Tuesdays; three mag. submissions per week -- or whatever our personal system is. My personal writing time generally coincides with the hours when I'm not at my "day job" - so that means I do a lot of my writing late at night on my "work-days." But it also means I really do most of my literary work on Mondays and Tuesdays when I have "off."

And yet there are times when life just plain interferes with my writing schedule. There are sick days, weddings, children's birthday parties, second honey-moons, family reunions, kids' soccer games and other truly important life priorities.

So, how do we work our writing time around such important events? I think one good way is "travel writing." No. I'm not talking about the type of writing where you take a trip to Tahiti and then sell your musings about great bed and breakfasts there to some travel and tourism magazine. (Although that does sound like fun!) But, nope. I'm talking about taking the writing life with you when you travel.

For example, this past week I had to drop all of my plans t0 hop on a plane and fly 4 states over for an unexpected funeral. Now, of course it was extremely important for me to be at the funeral. I was sad about the person who died, and also glad to be with many people I love in the days before and after the funeral proceedings. And yet there was also another emotion on the fringes as I hurriedly packed for the trip. You see, I was frustrated to have my return flight home taking up my entire Monday -- my writing day -- and one that was particularly important this week because I had planned to spend it preparing for the SCBWI Carolina's writing conference coming up next weekend.

So, in order to live both important lives at the same time, I chose to take my writing life on the road.

I packed the things I'd need for the funeral weekend in my checked suitcase, but stashed my laptop with charger and my newest copy of Writer's Digest magazine in my carry-on. I scheduled a flight that would get me there and home again in plenty of time to be present for all of the important events related to the life tragedy -- yet I also carefully chose a flight with a 2 hour lay-over in Atlanta. Lay-overs are what I call built-in writing time! So, I read my Writer's Digest on the plane on the way there, and finished it up several days later, on the way back. And I came away with a list of new publishers to query, new things to add to this blog, and new ways to market my work. (You really should check out the October edition - it's full of great stuff again this month!).

I also jotted some new story ideas in the magazine margins in between airplane peanuts and turbulence, and I wrote out a 1-sentence synops for my current novel -- in preparations for that up-coming conference. Then, during that lay-over in Atlanta, I gulped down a piece of pizza, stationed myself in the corner with my laptop, and type, type, typed on my novel until it was time again to board. Later, as we prepared to land from the last leg of my journey, I thought about what I would write in this blog entry, and I realized once again that I am a BIG, BIG fan of "travel writing."

Finding time to write can require both flexibility and creativity. And sometimes (dare I say it?)things happen in life that are more pressing than writing. Yet, thanks to the beautiful thing I call "travel writing," I'm still prepared and excited for this weekend's conference!

So, what about you? What techniques are you using to take your writing life with you to those soccer games, anniversary weekends, and other "more pressing than writing" events?

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