I travel quite a bit. So does my husband. In the early days of our marriage, pre-kid phase, we were constantly on the road, in the air, or riding the rails. Now, the travel is significantly less, but I’m still on the go once or twice a month. It’s taught me a lot about writing in strange places. Over the years I’ve learned to be productive despite uncomfortable or foreign surroundings. We can’t always choose our location. We may abhor the decor in the hotel. The bed may be lumpy and uncomfortable. All these things can suck your creative engery and may deter you from taking advantage of your travel downtime. The key is training your mind to click into creative mode despite the challenges.
Here are some tricks:
1. Take something small from home that feeds the creative vibe. I have a journal I’ve filled with photos from magazines. Some pages have flowers others have glittery jewels. When I see a photo in a magazine that is pleasing to the eye, I snip it and paste it into the journal. If I get blocked, I can flip through the pages to spur creativity.
2. Keep a pen or pencil, and a small notebook with you at all times. It’s not practical to open your laptop every time an idea pops into your head but you can always jot down quick notes and type them up later.
3. When you’re stuck in a hotel for several days, it’s nice to have a few items that make the room feel more like home. If I’m driving to my destination, I pack a small candle. If I’m flying, I buy one once I get there. I choose a scent that’s pleasing to me and it makes my stay much more productive. Music, either on a CD you can play in your laptop or an MP3 player, also travels well. Not only can it fire creativity but it can also be used to insulate you from distracting sounds.
4. Get a flash drive you can wear as a necklace. You can keep it with you at all times. Even if you don’t have a laptop, there are frequently business centers where you can work. If you have the drive, you can write, edit or transpose notes on the go.
5. Take advantage of the views. Don’t stay trapped in your room. Take advantage of the various seating areas in the hotel. You may find a really comfortable and inspiring place to work.
6. Use your downtime to write. Manuscripts take hours and hours to complete. You don’t have to write a manuscript in one marathon session. Twenty and thirty minute sessions, whether writing or revising, can be very productive.
7. Have food and something to drink in your room. Most hotel rooms have a mini-fridge. If you’re staying for a couple of days, stock it with snacks and drinks. Then, if you’re really getting a lot of work done, you don’t have to stop and go downstairs or off the premises for food. I usually have a few bottles of water, some fruit and a couple of protein bars. Cheap, low-calorie, and no utensils required.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas that will help you become more productive in environments other than your office or your home. You really can write a masterpiece in all the wrong places.