For most travel writers, finding the time to write while on the road is a challenge.
Everything is a distraction – the excitement of going to a new place, meeting new friends, experiencing a culture different from your own.
If you’re on one of those media tours where the publicist drags you to every must-see site, restaurants and bars, you end up too exhausted to write down even the first few paragraphs of the story that you must send to your editor the next day.
But this need not be a problem, as there are some small things that you can do to squeeze in some writing time while traveling.
1. ) Take notes: Keep a notebook (small enough to put on your pocket or handbag) and a pen and take notes. Jot down a short description of the place you’re at, the highlights of the interview you’re conducting, the recipe of that carrot cake that you ate in a cafe recommended by your friend. Bring a camera (no need for a DSLR, even a camera phone will do) and take photos. Also have an envelope handy to keep the plane tickets, museum pass and business cards. Documenting your tour will save you some research time later, giving you more time to write.
2. Stop waiting, start writing: Traveling involves a lot of hours waiting – for the airplane to arrive, for the bus to get filled with passengers, for the waiter to serve your meal, for the press conference to start. Use this waiting time to do some writing – it doesn’t matter if you can only pen a couple of paragraphs. These paragraphs that you write will end up as full story after converting more of this waiting time into writing time.
3. Set up a writing routine: I recommend this to writers who need to travel over a long period of time. Include at least 30 minutes of writing time in your daily schedule, no matter what, no matter where. This will help you build your story (or novel) one day at a time.
4. Figure out your story angle and stick to it: Why did you go this place? What is it that you’re writing about? Is this a hotel review? A food and culture story? An account of your trek in the Himalayas? By determining your story angle, you can simplify your itinerary, put in more writing time and develop a tight and focused story that will resonate well with your readers.
5. Learn to say “no”: You don’t have to attend to each and every event. You do not need to eat in every restaurant recommended by a friend/celebrity chef/guidebook. You don’t need to go any of these ruins, museums or temples just because the guide/publicist/know-it-all colleague told you to go there. Have your own travel plan, do only what you think will enhance your story and ditch any invite that will just waste your time and energy.
How do you find time to write while traveling? Share your tips!