A good writer takes inspiration from the world around him/her, and my world has involved a lot of moving about lately. Figuring out how to keep the blog vaguely updated during those travels has been an interesting and occasionally complicating factor, so let’s talk about what to do when your work or your personal life keeps you from the luxurious, wood-paneled study in which you are accustomed to composing.
Or, you know, your fifth-floor walk-up efficiency with pirated wireless. But wherever you call your writing home, some things you can keep in mind when life takes you away from it…
If you’re writing on a deadline, or for an updating project with a regular schedule (a M-W-F blog, just for example), the biggest favor you can do yourself is to write a couple articles ahead. This takes some self-discipline, which is why I almost never manage to do it, but I always wish I had — so do as I say, not as I do. If possible, just shift your deadlines until you’re one or ideally two ahead — if your articles are due once a week on Friday, have two ready by Friday each week to build up a backlog. If you slip once in a while, no big deal, but in general try to be adding to your pile of finished or nearly-finished projects. Of course, this strategy only works if you have a backed-up copy of the advance work that travels with you — I like to mail things to my gmail account as well as keeping them on a flash drive or laptop; even if I forget my flash drive or my files get lost somehow, the Google server is unlikely to give me trouble unless I’m trying to update from China.
Bring a Notebook
This is an idea I’ve talked about in detail before, but it holds especially true on the road — have a notebook that’s small enough to slip inside your backpack/purse at the very least, and ideally that can fit in a pocket if you need it to. However, since it’s a traveling notebook, you don’t want to trade too much sturdiness away for portability; make sure you’ve got a reasonably stiff cover keeping the pages from getting crumpled or torn off as you walk and paper that won’t smear and run if sweat or rain gets it damp. I don’t go through notebooks fast enough to have done any serious brand comparisons, but most people say good things about the Moleskin products, and I’ve also had good luck with some of the hand-bound, handmade-paper sorts of journal you sometimes find in import stores or at fair trade exchanges.
Write During Downtime
Travel tends to involve more idle minutes than day-to-day life (unless your job really sucks), so try to use it creatively. Long delays at airports and train stations are obvious candidates for some serious writing time, since there’s rarely anything else to do during them, but they will also strain battery life unless you happen to find an outlet for your laptop — save often, or better yet just use your pen-and-paper journal.
…and Check Your Battery!
Funnily enough, typing that sentence made me think about batteries and go looking for my own power cable — which I didn’t bring. So keep an eye on that battery life if you find yourself relying on it, realize that most computers will start automatically shutting themselves off a few percentage points before the 0% marker, and save computer time by writing long-hand and transcribing quickly. Which I didn’t do, so that’s it for now! More to come when I get home, or find a way to charge the battery.