There is a surprisingly lot of downtime while traveling, but writing is also a lot of work. In transit or after a long day of excursion, you might not have the energy to sit down and write.
But that is because you are thinking of writing a big story. You are thinking you need to sit down and craft a whole novel. You don’t! Vacation time is not the time to immerse yourself in a new project, and it’s a bad idea to pack your epic work and bring it with you on your trip. The trip itself is the project, what you need to do is document it.
Yes, if you really wanted to you can most certainly piece together the first draft on your trip, but what I want to talk about is filling the well.
In our day to day lives, we are pulling water from the well. This is our creative inspiration, these are our experiences, these are our energy and motivation, these are conversations and ideas. We fetch water from this well every time we meet someone new or sit down to a blank page. Eventually, we find ourselves saying the same things or expressing the same ideas over and over again in the same way.
Vacation and traveling is a good time to pause the fetching and begin the filling. Here’s another metaphor for writing while traveling, it’s more about collecting dots — then when you are home and you have the lazy Saturdays to get to work, that is time to connect them.
So how do you collect these dots? Here are 5 tips that will help you get your ideas down on paper while traveling.
Find Alone Time
If you are traveling with companions, you will need to find not only time but alone time. It’s hard to write in the middle of dinner, during an excursion, or while everyone is watching you. So find 15-30 minutes here or there to jot down your thoughts. This can be early in the morning while you are out grabbing breakfast and coffee or while everyone is getting ready to head out for the night, find a few moments to make a drink, chill and do a bit of writing.
Take Pictures and Record Videos
Even if you aren’t carrying a camera, with a smartphone, you can capture a moment — not in the same way your memory will, but you can definitely get some of the physical details recorded. Then when you get back to a writing spot or even when you return home, you can reference those pictures and videos to help expand your writing.
Don’t think too much about plot or character development — or the end result. With only a short amount of time to write before you have to head out for the day or crash for the night, you’d want to make the most of the time you have. This is the time to simply get the idea on paper. Make a habit to dump your thoughts, once a day or a few times a week.
Don’t Worry About Technology or Organization
I prefer writing in a notebook when I’m traveling. It’s much easier to deal with than lugging around a laptop. You want to be able to write in a moments notice, so none of that booting up the computer shit. I also try not to worry too much about the organization or have one clear thought going from page to page. I jot down my thoughts and ideas at the moment with a goal for me to reflect on later. If you bring technology with you, you are adding another layer of friction, which may slow your writing process down. Nevertheless, if you are writing captions for your Instagram post, that still counts as writing 😉
Remind Yourself You’re a Writer
It’s easy to go on vacation and completely forget your goals. You stop exercising, you eat more, you party harder. Yes, you paid a lot of money to enjoy your trip and if you don’t want to write, don’t! If you feel like you might miss out on something fun, don’t write right then and there, go enjoy the experience. There is nothing worse than being on vacation and feeling like you should be doing something else, like work. It’s all about a frame of mind. Be in the moment. You are a writer whether you write one word or a thousand words. It’s like sleep if you force it, it won’t come, soon if you are a writer, you’ll long to return to the pages.
There you have it. Bring a notepad on your next trip and jot down your thoughts. Don’t worry about what it can become. Collect dots and fill the well.