Traveling to visit with family can be fun, entertaining, and nerve-wrecking all at once. One of the things I look forward to most about the holidays is not just getting together with family, but also the anticipation of seeing them. It’s no secret that I am a lover of road trips. The building excitement of packing, loading the car, and the hours upon hours of spending time with the kids in the car with their mounting excitement for the holiday, is truly what makes the trip so worth while. But, as fun as traveling is, it can still be difficult to write while traveling, especially if you come from a family that plans out every waking moment of your visit (fortunately I don’t). So what are some ways to get some good productive writing in while traveling without taking away from time with the family?
1. Passenger Seat Writing. The most obvious of answers is writing if you’re not the one driving. If you’re the passenger and have a long road trip ahead of you, there is no reason why you can’t knock out some pages or do some editing, revising, journaling, and/or brainstorming instead of sleeping or staring out of the window. If kids or other passengers are a distraction, take advantage of all technology has to offer and plug those ears with your most inspirational sounds and get to writing.
2. Plan Ahead. If you are from a family that plans out every moment of the trip, take advantage of that Type A personality planner and be sure to include your writing time in the plan. Personally, I don’t commit to doing any work that is not directly related to the holiday celebration on the holiday itself, but if you’re die-hard and don’t want to miss a beat, plan to write while everyone is snoozing after overindulging on turkey and dressing. If you’re a big football fan and just can’t miss the games on turkey day, then plan to devote a couple of hours to writing while the turkey’s in the oven. If however you are like me and no matter what the holiday is just that – a holiday – and you refuse to work on that day, then plan an hour or two of writing while the family sleeps in, or while you’re waiting in the parking lot for stores to open their doors for Black Friday. Either way, there is no reason you can’t get your ideas down just because you’re traveling.
3. Be Realistic. No one knows your family better than you. No one knows YOU better than you. Don’t commit yourself to a schedule you know you can’t realistically keep. If you know there are certain traditions that your family simply will not compromise on – don’t. Avoid committing to working on days that will just be impossible to do. You’ll find yourself feeling unaccomplished and will spend the next several days beating yourself up over your lack of commitment to your craft. Spare yourself, your family, and the writing community (because you know you’re going to blog about it) from that unnecessary drama and try this instead. Set a number of (realistic) hours you want to write for your entire trip. Then work those hours in over the span of the trip rather than committing to a day-by-day schedule. If you set your goal at five hours of writing, you can spread those hours out in any way that fits your family’s holiday schedule. Flexibility is the name of the game.
4. Accept All Forms of Accomplishment. When I first started into this venture, I thought that writing was the only way for me to feel as if I accomplished anything in my craft. I was extremely hard on myself if I didn’t write at least 1500 words of something every day. What I know now is there is more that goes into writing than just, well. . . writing. Jotting down some blog ideas; drafting a blog entry or two; journaling an inspired poem that popped into your head; a new story layout; editing/revising current works in progress; laying out a new project plan or plan of action; catching up on emails and correspondence related to your current or future works, are all a part of your writing career. One doesn’t happen without the other. It’s great if you can write thousands of words per day no matter what. But just in case you have these other things on your plate that contribute to getting that masterpiece manuscript in front of your readers, you need to accept that these things also count as being productive and getting you closer to publication. It all counts in my book.
5. Have Fun. The most important rule of all. Some of my most inspiring moments come from life itself. I find that I do some of my best writing when I just relax and let the ideas pop into my head from day-to-day activities. Just plan to enjoy your trip and you’ll end up finding yourself inspired in more ways than one.
Celebrating the holidays with family and friends is obviously a priority. But like most of our American holidays, despite taking multiple days to celebrate, reality is, the holiday itself is just one day. You can still use your time wisely to advance your writing career without sacrificing the much needed time with your loved ones.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving! And (when you have time) write on!