safford az arizona train tracks

5 Best Ways to Write on the Road

One of the perks of being a writer is the flexibility inherent in it. Your hours are flexible (although they still need to happen), and so is your location. I can, in theory, work anywhere I have an internet connection. Heck, at this point, it’s more like anywhere there’s a decent mobile signal.

However, like most theoretical things, it’s easier hypothesized than acted upon. Case in point, I am currently full of delicious Mexican food, in a nice hotel room, in Safford, AZ, and very sleepy. And writing tomorrow’s blog. I would, frankly, rather be sleeping right now. I barely got anything done while I was in California last month.

So that leads to an interesting question, given that I’ve done a lot of my work on the road in the past, what are the best practices for writing on the road?

1. If Possible, Don’t

This may sound like a cop-out, yes, but I swear, it’s not so much as it seems. The fact is, writing on the road is always tough, because planning is really a trick. Sure you can reliably blog with a smart phone, now, but that’s still not as easy as a computer and a comfy chair. Will there be wifi where you’re going? Will it actually work, or will it be painfully slow? Will you actually have control over your itinerary and schedule, or will others play a role in dictating it?  It’s better to write stuff ahead of time, and then roll it out automatically. And remember to post it. . .

There’s a philosophical bent to this as well; travel should be where you collect new experiences to write about, not where you write. Fill your 9-5 boring time with writing about the interesting things in life. Fill your trips with those interesting things.

When possible, prepare your content for your travelling before you ever leave. That’s honestly the best advice I can give you. You can’t always do that though, so . . .

2. Leverage Multimedia

Often times, uploading a few pretty pictures with a brief description to give each of them context is more than enough to make an engaging posts.

highway tonto national forest globe superior AZ arizona
Highway through Tonto National Forest, SE Arizona.

Obviously, there are entire blogs that do just that. That’s not really an ideal option for a writer, but we can get away with it now and then. Videos are also a real possibility, although perhaps not best when you’re driving. And don’t forget podcasts, of course.

All of these take less time than a particularly detailed blog post, so they’re usually something you can squeeze in.

3. Plan Posts Ahead of Time

Usually, if you plan something really well, it takes very little time to type up. For example, a short list of tips for writing while on the road is exactly the sort of thing you can think up while driving along through a boring area, or waiting for the hotel receptionist to get off the phone.

Once you have a firm idea of the topics and subtopics you want to cover, churning out a few hundred words in five to ten minutes is pretty doable.

4. Plan in Writing Time

Don’t just assume it will happen. Actively schedule writing time for your downtime. The truth is, most travelling involves a fair amount of empty time. Plane, train, boat, and car rides, for starters. If you’re doing the long road trip, well, then you’re going to need to rest from time to time. You’ll need to do laundry. You’ll get blisters from hiking too much, and need to spend a day off your feet. And so on.

5. It’s Your Job: Do It

Travelling or not, if it needs to get done, then do it. It’s a simple rule that will take you far. Chances are you’ve got a lot of work to do, and little enough time to do it. So get to work!

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