Summer is wrapping up and things are starting to settle down for the fall. If I were still in grade school, I would normally be expected to write a short paper describing what I did for the past three months. I could talk about the places I’ve visited or the activities I participated in and title it, “My Summer Vacation, by Sarah Werner”.

But in today’s episode of the Write Now podcast, I’m going to take it one step further and talk about what I learned about writing while traveling, both this summer and while growing up.

If you’re like me, trying to write on vacation can be discouraging, if not downright impossible. Good luck trying to write longhand in the back of a crowded car or keep from getting carsick while reading. And have you ever tried getting some creative writing done at a family reunion?

But we are writers, after all, and writers write. So I thought I’d put together an episode that took a different approach to making the most of mobile creativity.

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How to Write on the Go

Sometimes being productive on a trip is just plain impossible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use vacation downtime as a creative outlet. Here are a few tips and methods of thought I’ve discovered in my efforts to capitalize on writing time on the road and away from home:

  1. Make a list of writing supplies. Write down a short inventory of the items, aids, and conditions that help you write successfully at home. Label each as a “must-have”, “nice-to-have”, or “unnecessary” contribution and pack accordingly. Be sure to consider tech limitations like internet and wifi availability and battery lifespans.
  2. Make downtime productive. Hours of driving and lengthy layovers are sometimes unavoidable. But instead of turning to distractions, use the time to develop an idea or stimulate your creativity. It isn’t often that we’re given the time to simply think things through. It’s also a great way to approach problems from a different angle.
  3. Set realistic boundaries with travel companions. It may not always be possible to sneak away for an hour or two of writing, especially during family functions. But establishing your need for privacy or workspace ahead of time can help others understand what you need while being respectful of the group.
  4. Be as wide-eyed and open as a child. All cheesiness aside, this method is especially helpful when you’re stuck somewhere for a while. Instead of languishing in boredom, allow your mind to get caught up in the moment. Relax your expectations and give yourself permission to experiment with whatever inspiration comes your way.
  5. Do a little research. To a writer, everything can be considered research. Your surroundings, the people you interact with, even your own thoughts and feelings. The details, quirks, and points of interest in your general vicinity can make all the difference when it comes to sparking ideas and gleaning inspiration.
  6. Journal. Taking pictures on a vacation is a great way to remember what it was like at that moment. But pictures can’t describe how you felt, what you were thinking, or the sensory details of the experience. A detailed journal can supplement pictures with the whole story… and act as a creative outlet to boot.
  7. Be okay with not writing. You don’t have to spend every second of free time taking notes or committing everything to paper. Simply experiencing the world and looking at your surroundings through a different lens will benefit your writing. Keep in mind that quality rest benefits your writing the most, so make sure to take breaks.

Hopefully these ideas will jog your creativity the next time you’re out in the wider world. I know it’s hard to write outside of normal conditions and environments (and comforts!). But I am a firm believer that even the most mundane travel has the potential to broaden a writer’s mind. With a little forward thinking, I’m confident you can find inspiration in any situation!

What do you think?

What methods work for you when you’re on the road? Do you have any travel tips that help you get into your creative zone? Tell me your thoughts on my contact page! You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂 As always, I’d love to hear from you.

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