Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Traveling and Writing

I’m on the road….again. This time I’ll be on the east coast for almost two weeks, attending lots of book events. A very exciting, fun-filled time. I’ll be staying with friends that I never get to see enough of, and who have scored book club, library, and bookstore readings for me—not to mention a special western themed dinner. I want to spend every minute enjoying the company of friends and being “on” at these wonderful gigs.

BUT. That’s two weeks out of my writing time—time I need to move forward on my current work in progress. So how do I handle this?

Last year I went to Africa for five weeks. I decided there was no way I could forego writing for that length of time. But I also knew I didn’t want to drive myself crazy with a writing schedule that would make me feel guilty every day that I didn’t meet it. In the end I decided that I would aim for a modest 500 words a day, and try to do that at least five days a week. And it worked! While everyone else was napping or reading in the afternoon break, I took out my tiny little ipad mini with its tiny little keyboard, and I tapped away. Luckily, I don’t nap in the afternoon, so I didn’t miss it. But you can be sure that when we were escorted to our cabins at what seemed like a ridiculously early hour, I fell into bed and slept soundly.

My writing mentor and pal Sophie Littlefield once said that she had learned to write on the plane and in her hotel room when she was on book tour. That’s what I do. I’m writing this as my friend Karen is and getting dressed for the day. Of course it’s easier for me because I don’t have household chores to do. But instead of reading, or messing around on Facebook, I’m writing my blog. Yesterday on the plane I wrote 1500 words, despite the best efforts of the woman in the seat in front of me (may she get a bad case of laryngitis) who screeched at her seatmate for the entire five-hour flight. Thank goodness for the lovely man next to me who was working as feverishly as I was (hmmm, maybe he was writing a novel).

Luckily on the east coast I’m up a couple of hours after everyone else has retired for the night, so I can always sneak in a little writing time then.

Writing: it’s what writers do. What I’ve learned is that I can take off a day now and then, but if I take off too many days in a row I lose momentum and lose the thread of the story. Not to mention that I start to get that itchy feeling that something isn’t quite right. Are we a crazy bunch, or what?


James Ziskin said...

Great post, Terry. Your strategy is a sound one. Grab the moments when you can and set goals. I only wish I were as diligent as you.

Pat Marinelli said...

I always wrote on vacation when I was up early and everyone else was still asleep. Of course then it was letters to family and now I work on my writing.